As a niche farming practice, strip-till requires an intimate understanding of how different parts of the system correlate to an overall objective, whether it’s increasing yields, improving soil health, targeting fertilizer application — or all three.
Striking the right balance between equipment and inputs, to maximize the benefits of strip-till, is a constant work in progress. With so many moving parts (literally and figuratively), having a local resource that is knowledgeable on setting up and maintaining such a system is often a luxury for strip-tillers.
Some are fortunate to be farming in a pocket of other strip-tillers who they can exchange ideas with, face-to-face. Others have tapped local university or Extension staff for assistance. Another option is online networking with other strip-tillers in North America or even overseas to share tips and techniques.
But one of the apparent voids at the local level is strip-till support from farm equipment dealers. Based on a recent survey of Strip-Till Strategies’ readers and conversations with farmers about dealer support, the vast majority cited little or no support from their local dealer in developing their system, often because dealers didn’t have a true understanding of strip-till as a concept.
“It’s more than just a piece of iron, and there is the agronomic understanding that goes with the equipment,” says Shell Rock, Iowa, strip-tiller Jeff Reints. “I’m not sure there’s widespread knowledge of that among equipment dealers.”
Reints, who has been strip-tilling for more 20 years, has traditionally relied on trial-and-error and his own intuition to evolve his system. But he sees the value of having a knowledgeable local dealer, especially if it could provide a comprehensive equipment setup.
To assemble his current arsenal of strip-till equipment, which includes a Harvest International toolbar, 24 Dawn Pluribus row units and a Montag fertilizer cart, Reints worked with three different outlets to acquire the components.
“I definitely wouldn’t mind if there was a one-stop shop that could supply the equipment and parts and also support the system,” he says. “Maybe that’s something we’ll see more of in the future, especially as the importance of soil health is getting to be more mainstream and strip-till is a big part of that.”
What support would you most like to get from your equipment dealer to benefit your strip-till system? Shareyou story and contact me at (262) 777-2441, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.