This time of year, children are busy scribbling down their most creative — and in the case of my 7-year-old, the most expensive — holiday gift ideas they can imagine.
Strip-tillers also have their own wish lists for the coming year and beyond. After harvest, several farmers spoke of plans for planter modifications next year to improve residue management, or fertilizer placement in the strip.
But some farmers have even bigger ambitions. Megan Wallendal, who farms with her husband, Eric, in Grand Marsh, Wis., anticipates a day when they can variable-rate strip-till their 2,000 acres of forage corn, snap beans and soybeans.
“I come from an information-technology background and understand the value that can be gained with variable-rate planting and fertilizing practices to increase efficiencies,” says Megan. “What I’m interested in is being able to map our fields and assess where we should be banding more fertilizer with strip-till based on seed populations and soil types.”
The Wallendals have been challenged by their sandy topsoil and heavy clay sub-layers as they’ve worked to improve growing conditions, and they’ve utilized strip-till, along with soil sensing and irrigation, to get the most productivity out of their operation.
Megan’s vision is to further increase productivity by fine-tuning fertilizer application with their strip-till rig to compensate for low-producing rocky or sandy hills where they plant lower seed populations.
“We could also map our fields and cross-reference data to decide if we should band a little extra fertilizer in an area where we planted a higher population,” she explains. “Or, we may learn that we don’t see any benefit to strip-tilling a certain area and applying fertilizer, based on our field data.”
Variable-rate techniques are certainly being used today to enhance efficiency in strip-till operations. But in the coming years, it will be interesting to see if these practices evolve from ‘wish list’ to reality for more farmers.
What additions or changes are you planning for your strip-till system next year? Share you story with me at (262) 782-4480, ext. 441, or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.