Farmers are always on the lookout for ways to increase profitability while protecting their soil and water. Many have found that answer in some form of reduced tillage. 

Practices like strip-tillage can lead to healthier soils with better water infiltration and reduced soil erosion. Plus, it provides many operational benefits, such as fuel savings, decreased labor and reduced equipment needs. 

That said, introducing a new practice can significantly shift how a farm operates, making farmers hesitant to make the switch. Here are some common misconceptions about strip-till farming and the realities behind them.

Myth: I risk reduced yields if I don’t use conventional tillage.

Truth: Multiple on-farm and university studies throughout the Midwest have shown that strip-till farming can be just as productive as conventional tillage. Plus, it conserves soil resources while saving time and money because tillage, fertilizer placement, and planting all take place in a single pass.

According to a 30+ year tillage study conducted by Dr. Tony Vyn at Purdue University1, strip-till holds its own when it comes to yields. It typically produces yield gains over no-till and is comparable with conventional, full-width tillage methods. Research by the University of Minnesota and North Dakota State University2 supports these findings and shows that strip-till costs significantly less than full-width tillage.

“Yields generally don’t go down,” says Jodi DeJong-Hughes, crop specialist with the University of Minnesota Extension. “But the management and learning curve go up.”

Myth: My soils won’t warm as quickly in the spring with strip-tillage.

Truth: You don’t need the whole field fully warmed for successful germination. With strip-till, you gain efficiencies by tilling the soil only where the seed will be placed. This creates an optimal seedbed while improving soil health. 

Multiple years of research from multiple Minnesota locations show that spring soil temperatures are essentially the same in the tilled zones as they are in conventionally tilled fields. Temperatures are cooler in the untilled zones, but that has little or no impact on seed germination.

Myth: I tried it years ago, and it doesn’t work for me.

Truth: The strip-till of years ago is not the strip-till of today. Some farmers did try it decades ago and struggled to make it work. As with many things in agriculture, advances have been made to equipment and guidance systems since then. 

For example, the SoilWarrior® doesn’t just till soil in strips and band fertilizer. It has a unique coulter row unit design that blends the fertilizer with the soil throughout the 10-inch-wide zone at depths up to 10 inches, depending on the row unit configuration. This allows plant roots to readily access fertilizer wherever they grow and reduces the potential for fertilizer burn at higher application rates, which can happen when fertilizer is banded and may create hot spots.

Myth: The equipment I need is too expensive.

Truth: As with most pieces of farm equipment, there is a significant investment involved when purchasing a strip-till system. However, you may be able to clear out some space in your machine shed because the SoilWarrior makes tillage, fertilizer placement, and sometimes even planting possible in one pass, reducing the need for other equipment. If you choose to do fall tillage, you can use the SoilWarrior then as well. 

Making these types of investments can lead to the need of a financial lender. Finding the right one can make all the difference. 

“Strip-till equipment is a little more specialized versus say a trailer, tractor or standard tillage equipment. It helps to work with a lender that is familiar with the equipment and understands the value that it can bring,” shares Gabe Jarnot of Northland Capital.

The cost savings you’ll experience by implementing strip-till long term will also help justify the investment. Strip-till has been shown to save farmers $19.50 per acre over conventional tillage with no yield loss, leading to an estimated savings of $20,000 for a two-year corn and soybean rotation on a 1,000-acre farm.

Ready to give strip-till a try? Contact us today to get started with the SoilWarrior. 

1 Vyn, Tony. “Strip-Tillage: Research Lessons on How to Make a Good System Even Better.” American Society of Agronomy Webinar. 8 Apr. 2020.

2 DeJong-Hughes, Jodi, and Aaron Daigh. “Economics of Tillage.” UMN Extension, 2018,

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 for more information.