The comfort zone for most strip-tillers tends to be 30-inch rows. It offers ample space for corn to emerge and equipment setup and maintenance is easier.
But some strip-tillers are willing to experiment with narrower rows — whether it’s a 20-inch system to potentially boost corn yield over no-till, or a twin-row strip-till setup to push corn-planting populations.
Weston, Neb., strip-tiller Ron Kadavy thinks outside the 30-inch system. After 10 years of strip-tilling several hundred acres of irrigated and dryland corn with a 12-row Strip Cat rig, he’s considering a switch to twin-row strip-till.
But Kadavy isn’t ready to make the financial commitment to do that until he knows it’s going to be worthwhile. So this spring, he’s testing the twin-row system on a few acres, using his traditional 12-row, John Deere 1710 corn planter.
“With my RTK system, I’m going to move over 4 inches from center one way and then move 8 inches back to the other side of the same strip,” explains Kadavy. “That way, I’ll have an 8-inch spacing for my twin rows.”
He will adjust his planting population accordingly, and admits that the results won’t be quite the same as if he were in a true twin-row setup.
“I’ll be driving over those tracks twice, so it will get a little more compacted and I won’t have that staggering effect with the planter,” Kadavy says. “But I think I’ll learn enough to know if it’s going to work.”
The last thing Kadavy wants is to spend $150,000 or more on a 12-row, twin-row planter without knowing it will pay off with higher yields. He’s seen other strip-tillers modify their system without doing any research or onfarm testing and have it end up being a waste of money.
“What I’m looking for is a yield increase, without any more product investment,” Kadavy says. “It has to be something that will get me those extra bushels without me having to buy that extra yield.”
We’ll check back with him later this year to find out what he learned from his twin-row experiment. Until then, share with us your most daring onfarm experiment with strip-till and the results. Call me at (262) 782-4480, ext. 441, or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.