If there were a definitive handbook for strip-till, at least several chapters could be devoted to fertilization practices and the application of the 4Rs of nutrient management stewardship.

The guiding philosophies of right source, right rate, right time and right place intersect with the overriding objectives of a strip-till system. In our latest podcast, Gibsonburg, Ohio, farmer David Myerholtz explains why he embraced and adapted the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship onto his 1,500-acre corn, soybean and wheat operation.

But he also discusses another aspect of his strip-till system: social awareness. Farming in the Lake Erie Basin, Myerholtz and other farmers in the area have a microscope on their operations, especially when it comes to nutrient application.

Myerholtz shared several anecdotes associated with microbial toxins being detected in Lake Eerie and surrounding waterways, along with increased scrutiny on phosphorus and nitrogen runoff in recent years. The combination is contributing to tighter restrictions on fertilizer spreading and required certifications.

It would be easy enough to absorb or redirect criticism. But Myerholtz says strip-tillers are in a unique position to be advocates of their craft rather than adversaries.

To this end, perhaps a fifth tenant of nutrient stewardship is “right attitude.”

“If we’re not proactive and don’t do some things together, there are going to be some mandates we’re not going to like,” he says. “Strip-tilling is being very proactive and a way to make sure we can continue using nutrients, rather than have them become prohibited.”

Myerholtz challenged his fellow strip-tillers to look at their strip-till rigs not simply as tillage tools, but as vehicles to implement their 4R nutrient plans.

“We’re making an environmental footprint every time we run across the field and strip-till is a benefit in minimizing that footprint and a trend I see continuing,” he says. “The attention being placed on nutrient management pulls people together. Of course some people will ignore it, some will be proactive and some will blame others. My approach is to foster 4R advocacy.”

How are you applying the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship in your strip-till system? Share your story with me at (262) 777-2441, or send me an email at jzemlicka@lessitermedia.com.