When I met Jay Petty at a strip-till meeting last June, the Pasco, Wash., farmer was still evaluating strip-till. That evaluation meant working with a salesman at a local Deere dealership, watching fields being strip-tilled and talking with a strip-tiller.
By this June, when I visited Petty on his farm in the heart of the incredibly fertile and rain-starved Columbia River Basin, Petty had strip-tilled and planted grain corn into corn stalks from last year’s crop.
In the lead story of this issue of Strip-Till Strategies, Petty readily acknowledges the challenges that corn-on-corn residue creates. He wants to lightly till the old corn rows to pin residue into the ground and to speed residue breakdown, too.
“There’s a lot of fertilizer in that residue and you don’t get it back in the soil until it breaks down,” Petty says. “And too much residue insulating the ground will not let the soil warm up.”
Petty has his corn custom combined with a chopping corn head. This seems makes sense, because two of the top residue-management techniques I keep hearing from strip-tillers across the country are using a chopping head and lightly tilling with a vertical tillage tool following harvest.
Let me know how you’re managing large amounts of residue in strip-till, whether it’s corn-on-corn or other rotations and crops.