Tony Anderson says his Uncle Ewing gave him a good lesson about farming years ago that every strip-tiller should adhere to.
“We were always in a hurry and he’d say, ‘Boys, you never have time to do it right, but you always have time to do it over.’ We have taken that to heart,” says the strip-tiller from Washington Court House, Ohio.
The following are a few suggestions he had for attendees at the National No-Tillage Conference on how to make strip-till work right the first time.
1. When planting corn on corn, Anderson will delay making strips until spring. “The residue in the fall is a challenge for us,” he says. “But the residue will disappear if you wait. We strip the ground in the spring and then spray it.”
2. It’s essential to keep your combine’s corn header in good condition. “We need to get the consistency of that residue into lengths that will degrade faster and give us the opportunity to work it into that nice little mound that’s 9 inches wide and 5 inches tall,” Anderson says. “That allows it to mellow down over the spring, and helps that mound better absorb those harsh spring rains.”
3. Lightbars are a tremendous asset. “They allow us to get fields laid out in a straight line much quicker than what we’ve been able to do with mechanical markers,” he says. “We recently invested in auto-steer on the big tractor and we had it on the planter last spring.” If using mechanical markers, Anderson recommends planting a wheat row right in the middle of the strip-till unit’s drawbar and using that strip of wheat as a guide next spring when planting.
4. Anderson is making the move to twin-row corn on strips, and says sub-inch RTK accuracy will be important to their success. “It’s enough of a challenge to maintain a single row on a 9-inch strip let alone two rows 7.5 inches wide on a 9-inch strip,” he says.
5. He suggests strip-tilling at 6 mph or more. “It helps us get a better fracturing of the soil in the subregions of that upper strip,” Anderson says.
6. Anderson says it’s important to have a large, heavy, strong mole knife that will last throughout the season and covering attachments that help work the residue back in the strip.
7. The entry price into strip-till is expensive, so perhaps you can trade work with a neighbor who has a strip-till rig. “If you’ve got a bigger planter and your neighbor has a better strip-till bar, see if you can plant some acres for him. Or perhaps spray for him or harvest,” Anderson says. “See if there’s a way to enjoy some of the advantages he’s experiencing.”