One of the primary benefits farmers often point to with strip-till is yield consistency. In talking with both experienced and new strip-tillers, many often cite year-over-year corn yield averages that may vary by only a bushel or two, compared to more dramatic variability with other tillage methods.
Of course, planning the right fertility program, building an accommodating seedbed and utilizing supplemental tools like cover crops all contribute to a profitable harvest. A complete strip-till system can also help offset adverse effects of weather or soil conditions, while also stabilizing yields.
But strip-tillers are also seeing a steady increase in both corn and soybean yields during the last few years, according to the results of the 2016 No-Till Farmer Benchmark Study, published in the Spring edition of Conservation Tillage Guide.
According to survey results of more than 380 farmers, strip-tillers averaged 191 bushels per acre for corn, and 55.5 bushels per acre for soybeans in 2015 — both of which topped no-till, vertical tillage and minimum tillage practices.
While 2015 was a stellar production year for many farmers, strip-tilled corn yields were 10 bushels per acre higher than the next highest average (181 for minimum tillage), according to the survey. And the 2015 strip-till average continued an upward trend during 4 of the last 6 years.
Starting in 2010, strip-tilled corn yields averaged 171 bushels per acre, and rose to 173 the following year. A drought-stricken 2012 lowered average yields to 146 bushels per acre, but in 2013, they rebounded to 172, and then jumped to 182 in 2014 and 191 last year.
Strip-tilled soybean yields have fluctuated during the last 5 years, but were nearly 1 bushel better than vertical tillage practices (54.7 bushels per acre) in 2015, according to the survey. While more farmers I’ve visited with recently are beginning to experiment with strip-tilled soybeans, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues to gather momentum.
Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage and analysis of strip-till specific practices in the 3rd annual Strip-Till Benchmark Study. We’re in the process of collecting and compiling information for the 2016 study, which will appear in the Summer edition of No-Till Farmer’s Conservation Tillage Guide.
If you haven’t already, I invite you to participate in our 2016 survey and contact me with any questions or suggestions on how we can improve the study at (262) 777-2441, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.