Efficiency is the word on every farmer’s mind heading into planting season. High input costs, supply chain disruptions and unpredictable weather have many seeking ways to maximize their time and investments in the field.

Strip-till is an approach that offers several advantages, especially when it comes to gaining nutrient efficiency. During recent episodes of Ag PhD Radio, Brian and Darren Hefty discussed how strip-till with the SoilWarrior has helped them go from stratified to satisfied over the last few years.

Combatting Nutrient Stratification

About 25 years ago, the Hefty brothers transitioned to no-till to improve soil health. As part of that program, they broadcasted fertilizer without realizing it could take up to 15 years for the less mobile nutrients to move through the soil. This meant their investments in phosphorus (P), zinc, copper and potassium (K) stayed near the top and had almost zero impact on their crop.

“We learned to think about the nutrients that didn’t move well through the soil just as must as the ones that did,” Darren Hefty says.

Today, they’re able to vary the rate of the nutrients in the strip about 6-8 inches deep where crops can access them, maximizing their fertilizer investment.

“Strip-till is a neat system to utilize. You can put fertilizer down right where the row is, so you can build up that fertility right where you know you’re going to have lots of roots to intercept it,” explains Darren Hefty.

The Heftys run a SoilWarrior with a coulter-based row unit that mixes the fertilizer throughout the soil profile. They’ve found this wider zone to be helpful, especially when trying to push yields.


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“When we started using coulters and spreading it throughout that strip, we saw our root system really expand out. I would say it’s the best root system we’ve ever seen,” Darren Hefty says.

This prescriptive approach has translated into to savings for many SoilWarrior customers who transitioned from broadcast to zone application. Minnesota farmer Brian Ryberg cut his P and K broadcast rate to 75%, while Michigan growers Ryan and Melissa Shaw estimated they saved $80,000 in fertilizer costs in 1 year.

Recently the team at Environmental Tillage Systems (ETS) added a split meter body system option and SoilWarrior Edge row units to the product lineup to provide additional precision and flexibility for the season.

According to ETS regional sales manager Dave Sender, the new split meter system can turn on and shut off fertilizer applications by row with the push of button inside the cab. The SoilWarrior Edge row unit creates an optimal planting zone like its predecessors, but it offers the flexibility to run with one coulter, a coulter shank combo or 3 tillage coulters, depending on soil conditions.

“These innovations give our customers more tools in their toolbox to help navigate the unique challenges that come with each season and each farm,” Sender says.

Do you want to get the most from your fertilizer and go from stratified to satisfied? Talk with an ETS sales representative to learn more about your options.

Strip-Till Farmer's Building Healthier Soil and Profits with Strip-Till series is brought to you by Environmental Tillage Systems.

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At Environmental Tillage Systems, we believe farmers shouldn’t have to choose between doing what’s right for your soil and what’s right for your business. The SoilWarrior is a complete precision zone tillage system custom built for your farm and delivered to you ready to get in the field. Backed by 24-hour service and support, The SoilWarrior takes the guess work out of strip-till so you can concentrate on defending the land and leading the charge. See soilwarrior.com for more information.