» Click to Jump to Video Interview and Transcript with Chris Perkins

Strip-Till Farmer paid a visit to 2024 Strip-Till Innovator Award recipient Chris Perkins at his Banded Ag offices in Otwell, Ind. In this video, we go behind the scenes with Perkins, as he talks shop with fellow strip-tiller and Montag territory manager Harold Crawford.  

Perkins shares his formula for growing a 300-bushel corn crop, discusses the value of residue and whether he’s considering adding cover crops to his arsenal. Perkins also shows how he’s combining dry and liquid fertilizer on his LandLuvr strip-till rig, explains his approach to starter fertilizer and why fungicide is even more valuable than you think. 

At the 2024 National Strip-Tillage Conference, Aug. 8-9, in Madison, Wis., Perkins will dive deeper into the significant benefits he’s uncovered while expanding his banded fertilizer system across more than 10,000 custom spring strip-till acres in Indiana and Kentucky. Click here to download the entire program and register for the conference. 

Stay tuned for an in-depth article on 2024 Strip-Till Innovator Chris Perkins, and a series of videos further detailing his approach to strip-till. The 2024 Strip-Till Innovator Award is sponsored by Montag Manufacturing. 


Noah Newman: The words on Chris Perkins desk say it all. The 2024 Strip-Till Innovator Award recipient challenges conventional wisdom with a systems approach banding program that's boosting corn yields by over 60 bushels per acre on his Otwell, Indiana farm. And every time he breaks the 300 bushel barrier, a vintage decal bag goes up on the walls of his office.

Chris Perkins: We put the name of the field up, we put what hybrid it was, the year and then what it was.

Noah Newman: So what's the key to these bin busting yields?

Chris Perkins: Starting with a band of nutrition below the plant, picking the correct hybrid, feeding that hybrid, and then protecting the health of that hybrid. I hate to say it's that easy, but once you start to get the hang of it, it starts becoming a lot easier.

Noah Newman: Perkins somehow makes it look easy, all while quarterbacking Banded Ag, a research consulting and custom strip-till business that's grown to over 10,000 acres in Indiana and Kentucky since 2017. He gives most of the credit to his dream team of employees.

Chris Perkins: Everything we do, everything we have, it really doesn't have shit to do with me. It has everything to do with them.

Noah Newman: As his banded team prepares for another busy spring, Perkins visits with fellow strip-tiller Harold Crawford, who also works as a territory manager for Montag in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.

Chris Perkins: A good crop will grow you an even better crop the next year. It is amazing how that works.

Harold Crawford: Well, we go right back to that residue we were talking about before. 300 or 350 bushels worth of residue should a year or two down the road give you that much more food value than 200 or 250.

Chris Perkins: Oh, absolutely.

Noah Newman: The conversation about residue continues on residue from a 340 bushel crop, and the topic eventually shifts to cover crops as Harold asked Chris if he's considered adding them to his formula.

Chris Perkins: There's been a fairly large gain of cover crops in our area. I'm not saying those guys are right, I'm not saying they're wrong. Basically I'm just sitting back and studying right now. But there used to be and there's still a fair amount, but there used to be a lot of wheat growing. So I've always kind of been of the mindset, "Well, if you're going to grow a cover crop, you might as well get paid for it." So wheat's a pretty good cover crop. There's no doubt that the fields hold better. But there again, going back to why are we using a cover crop? Are we using it because it's making everything healthier? Okay, I could buy that. We'll have that conversation. Or are we doing it because, "Well, it helps hold the ground in place." Okay. Well, I'll definitely have that conversation, but really good core residue will hold ground in place just as well as anything that I pay to plant.

Noah Newman: Cover crop or not, Perkins believes in balanced nutrition, feeding the plant with a one and done spring fertility program that includes NPK, sulfur, zinc, and boron, seven to eight inches below where the planter runs. He makes spring strips with this land lover machine, and it's equipped with a liquid application system and a dry fertilizer box.

Chris Perkins: We're able to incorporate the dry obviously through here, and then here's our liquid line. And you can see how it comes down and just feeds right out down the bottom down there between both of them, between the dry and the liquid.

Noah Newman: Perkins is also using an in-furrow starter fertilizer mix with his John Deere ExactEmerge planter.

Chris Perkins: 2-16-14 is what I'm running. It's just a low salt pop-up starter. That's actually new for this year. In the past, all I'd been running through that tube was water and sugar and a fulvic. That's it. There's nothing else.

Harold Crawford: So you're using the sugar and water mix? Or had been?

Chris Perkins: Yeah, with the fulvic. With the fulvic.

Harold Crawford: My son keeps saying, "We need to be putting sugar and water in on, in the furrow."

Chris Perkins: Yeah. Yeah. So I was just running water only. And a lot of people are like, "You lost your mind." I'm like, "There's a lot going on when you put sugar and fulvics together inside that's creating that biology where that seed is."

Noah Newman: At the end of the day, Perkins views every single one of these decisions as critical pieces to the puzzle. A systematic approach to boosting yields and maintaining plant health.

Chris Perkins: The corn that had the extra sugars in it, had the extra fertility in it and had the makeups of a decent corn crop. Well, I mean, that corn was just degrading and as black and carbon on it as could be. And that was when I realized right then, there's more to these fungicides than just keeping these things, these plants healthy. It's also a decomposition later for breaking down to keep the next crop and get it going. But all these things, they all touch one another in some form or fashion of trying to mend these programs together.

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