Strip-tillers routinely evaluate and experiment with fertilizer application methods, which can include a decision to implement a dry or liquid program.

While there are pros and cons to both systems, for Murdock, Neb., strip-tiller Mark Luetchens, the decision was based on economics and efficiency. Strip-tilling about 800 acres of corn with a 16-row, shank-style Wako rig, Luetchens added a pull-type 1,000-gallon Montag dry fertilizer cart to apply fertilizer during his spring strip-till pass.

“Comparing the cost of a liquid program to dry, I figured for banding the same nutrients, I could save $15-$20 per acre, depending on how much I apply,” Luetchens says.

This spring, he experimented with three different fertilizer blends on different fields with the goal of seeing which scenario is worth building on in the future. The first was a mix of ammonium sulfate (AMS) and urea, the second was monoammonium phosphate (MAP) and urea, and the third was AMS and MAP. Each application was placed about 5 inches beneath the strip, with an additional 100 pounds per acre of anhydrous ammonia about 8 inches deep.

“I’m trying to cut back on my anhydrous, but still get the balance of my nitrogen on in spring,” Luetchens says. “So in my experiments, the N levels will all be about the same in the different applications. The variable will be the different fertilizers.”

Another motive with the experiments is to see where he can modify his starter fertilizer package on the planter. Luetchens applies as many as 5 different products in-furrow at planting, including a new addition this year — a phosphorus product from Israel.

Recommended by a input supplier in Iowa, Luetchens says so far, he’s been pleased with the results. “We applied about 8-9 gallons per acre and it cut my starter fertilizer costs in half,” he says.

Throughout the growing season, Luetchens says he’ll be closely monitoring his experimental fields and make the necessary in-season adjustments. But he’s really looking forward to the yield checks in fall to see if his experiments pay off and then start planning next year’s fertility program.

What fertilization experiments are you trying in your strip-till operation this year? Share your insights with me at (262) 777-2441, or send me an email at