Editor’s Note: While riding in the combine during last fall’s corn harvest, I asked Elkhorn, Wis., grower Adam Friemoth if strip-till would work on the 4,000 acres he farms in place of the conventional tillage program he uses with his dairy operation. Here is his response.

— Michaela Paukner, Managing Editor of Strip-Till Farmer

By Adam Friemoth

On my soybean ground, there are 1,500 acres that we till because of the need to spread manure from the dairy operation. Then on my other soybean ground where I don’t have a lot of residue, I apply anhydrous ammonia. 

Since I use RTK, I plant right on top of the anhydrous track, which results in a little bit of worked up soil with no residue on the row area. With this system, the soil will be wet and cold between the rows, yet warm and dry for planting in the anhydrous row area. I’ve had good luck with his program.

Saving on Building Strips 

This system is essentially strip-till, but it doesn’t cost me $18 an acre to have someone do it because I’m applying anhydrous anyway.

When we apply anhydrous, we run two anhydrous applicator bars, and I try to do all the soybean ground with our older GPS-equipped Steiger tractor. Unfortunately, it can’t talk to the John Deere tractor or the tractor that pulls our planter. 

With our corn-on-corn ground that gets anhydrous, we’re going to till anyway. With the bean ground that we don’t want to till, we use the tractor with RTK, so we kind of strip-till in the anhydrous tracks.

It’s weird as I’ve tried planting directly over the anhydrous row and off the row in other areas. Some years we’ll have 25 bushels per acre more corn when we plant directly on the row while in other years, the yields will be the same, but they have never been worse. I guess it is possible that the corn could get burned if the seed was too close to the anhydrous, but I’ve never had that happen. 

After applying anhydrous, I wait 10 days before I plant corn and have never had trouble waiting that long. The same tractor is used for both anhydrous application and corn planting.

Some soybean fields are usually our wetter fields. If we don’t turn this peat ground black with limited tillage, they become a nightmare to plant. Once you work this ground, and it turns black, you can plant within hours. Otherwise, I don’t know how you would ever get it too dry. 

With no-till, we can’t normally plant this peat ground early because the ground is wet and cold. With these two options, I can start planting early and keep going.

Takes Lots of Manpower 

Because of the dairy, we’re down to about 12 workers. We did have 18 employees, but we just can’t find good help anymore.

With all the crop work, it’s my two sons, our mechanic, myself and two retirees that help here and there. We burn over 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel in year with our custom business that includes hauling of manure, combining, planting, along with farming our own ground, feeding the cows and hauling our own manure.

Related Content

Creating a No-Till Buffet for the Soil

Key Factors to Consider Before Applying Anhydrous Ammonia This Fall

Spring-Applied Manure Can Provide the Nitrogen Corn Needs for Entire Season