SUGARBEET STRIP SUCCESS. Not only has Michigan farmer Ryan Shaw been able to maintain his sugarbeet yields in a strip-tilled system, but he’s been able to back down fertilizer rates and save trips across the field. His 12-row Soil Warrior strip-till rig was particularly well suited to his operation because of its widening kit – which enabled him to accommodate twin row corn and soybeans – and adjustable coulter configurations.

5 Tips for Strip-Tilled Sugarbeet Success

Strip-tilling sugarbeets by trial and error since 2014 has taught Michigan farmer Ryan Shaw how the practice can result in input reductions and cost savings.

The following article is based on Ryan Shaw's presentation at the 2018 National Strip-Tillage Conference. To watch other presentations from the event, click here.

'You can’t strip-till sugarbeets,’ is something Snover, Mich., farmer Ryan Shaw had grown accustomed to hearing. But, since introducing strip-till on his 1,400-acre corn, soybean and sugarbeet operation in 2014, a glance at his fields provides evidence to the contrary. 

“Everyone’s farm and soil conditions are different, but for us, strip-tilling has definitely become the more efficient way to grow sugarbeets,” Shaw says. “I’ve talked to a few other farmers with similar results. Sugarbeets pay a lot of mortgages around here and prices have been really low for the past 3 years, so a lot of farmers still feel that experimenting with it is still just too risky.” 

Getting his roughly 300 acres of sugarbeets to grow in a strip-till system is one thing, but Shaw has been able to do so profitably. The strip-till payback has come in the form of cost savings rather than yield, and Shaw notes that although tonnage per acre and sugar content have remained roughly the same, he’s reduced the number of trips across the field and is using less fertilizer.

Before switching to strip-till, a chisel plow trip and 2-3 cultivating passes were needed in the fall to prep the seedbed. He now does 1 pass in the fall with his 12-row Soil Warrior, banding variable-rated potash and Micro-Essentials SZ (MESZ). In the spring, he does a shallow…

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Ian Gronau

Ian Gronau is a Contributing Editor for Lessiter Publications, with primary support responsibilities for Precision Farming Dealer, Strip-Till Strategies and the Strip-Till Farmer Website. He is a graduate of Chicago’s Columbia College and has been preparing content for magazines, websites and newspapers since 2009, and has been recognized with several awards.

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