lSpring strip-till can help farmers who want to grow continuous corn to maintain soil conservation benefits and reduce production problems, says Randall Reeder, an Ohio State University agricultural engineer.
Yields of no-tilled continuous corn can drop 5% to 15% vs. no-till corn following soybeans, Reeder says.
“The best production practice is to rotate your crops,” he says. “But some no-till farmers want to grow corn after corn, and they are going to see the production advantages of some kind of tillage. The challenge is, ‘How do we encourage them to do the least amount of tillage as necessary to maintain soil benefits, while not losing anything on the production end?’”
Reeder says the advantage of strip-till is that it prepares an ideal surface condition for corn planting, but still leaves residue between the strips like in no-till.
No-till farmers considering strip-till as an option may want to keep some of the following suggestions in mind:
• Plant 5 inches From The Old Corn Row
“Running a depth gauge wheel on the planter on the old row would give uneven depth and poor soil to seed contact,” says Reeder. “The goal of a successful corn crop is to have uniform spacing, uniform depth and uniform germination.”
• Consider Controlled Traffic
“The idea of moving 5 inches from the old row can fit into a controlled-traffic system,” Reeder says. “But its accuracy depends on RTK auto-steer systems.”
• Run Shallow Strip-Till In The Spring To Avoid Working Wet Soil
“Most farmers strip till in the fall and then let the natural weathering of the soil settle the soil structure,” says Reeder. “In the spring, you don’t have the freeze and thaw cycles, and big clods produced from strip-till can dry out like chunks of concrete. They’re hard to turn into a good seedbed.”
• Avoid Strip-till On Hills With Slopes Greater Than 3%
“Water will get into the strip and run right down the row,” says Reeder. “Strip-tillage on contours is fine.”