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Strip-till experimentation often starts small and Gene Kuntz, site manager at Farmamerica, is looking to build a baseline of learning on the research farm’s 240-acre site in Waseca, Minn.
Here, he has been involved in several strip-till trials. In 2018, they planted 15 acres of corn as part of the research plots and this will be strip-tilled for the next 5 years in a corn and soybeans rotation.
For their strip-till trials, they built fall strips with a 12-row Soil Warrior from Environmental Tillage Systems, about 8 inches wide and tilling 8 inches deep. When looking at the research plots, Kuntz examines soil health and soil structure for how it’s impacted by strip-till and no-till practices.
“By looking at these plots it’s not an issue of learning but looking at the proven facts,” he says. “There is an advantage if we utilize strip-till practices continuously as a way to improve soil health and reduce operational costs.”
Another area that Kuntz looks at is reducing cost of production. While looking over collected field data, he notices a common denominator while comparing conventional tillage and strip-till practices — particularly in reduced machinery costs, often as much as 30%, based on calculations from the Center for Farm Financial Management database.
“For instance, in Minnesota, I can sort based on corn and soybeans and also on strip-till and find the machinery cost breakdown for a 5-year period and compare those figures to conventional tillage and there’s a fairly dramatic difference in costs,”…