Residue is considered both a benefit and challenge for strip-tillers. Having the right row unit setup ahead of and during planting is critical to clearing the seedbed and achieving optimum early plant emergence.
But what about situations where there is a dearth of residue? This is often the circumstance Seguin, Texas, strip-tiller John Friesenhahn encounters on his 1,700-acre corn, cotton, wheat and sorghum operation.
While many farmers negotiate excess spring moisture in the field, Friesenhahn often has to figure out how to keep his strips from drying out ahead of planting. Visiting with him on his farm in late February, Friesenhahn had just finished strip-tilling, running a 12-row Orthman toolbar with Yetter Maverick row units, pulled by a Case IH 210 Magnum.
Strip-tilling for nearly 20 years, Friesenhahn has seen organic matter content increase from about 0.5-1.0% to 0.8-1.5%. While not dramatic growth in nearly 2 decades, he notes that biological breakdown of residue is more rapid than when he started strip-tilling.
“By late spring, whatever residue I have in the field is gone,” Friesenhahn says. “It’s decomposing all the time. We took the row cleaners off of our strip-till rig, but still run them on the planter.”
One of his objectives is to design and test an attachment on his strip-till rig row units that could sweep residue back on top of the strips ahead of planting. His idea – engineer a way to attach mini hay rakes behind the rolling baskets, which would gently pull residue back on top of the strip without disturbing the soil.
“I think something like that could keep that soil cooler and hold moisture better ahead of planting,” says Friesenhahn who is planting about 800 acres of strip-tilled corn and 450 acres of strip-tilled cotton in 2020, along with about 250 acres of no-tilled wheat.
What innovative residue management techniques have you engineered or plan to test on your strip-till operation? Share you story with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 262-777-2441.