In 5 years of strip-tilling, Josh Backstrom of Maddock, N.D., has gone through quite a learning curve, which has included figuring out how to manage rocks and residue.

But it’s been worth it, says Backstrom, who custom strip-tills 4,000 to 5,000 acres a year, in addition to strip-tilling the family farm’s corn and edible-bean acres.

But he cautions that succeeding with strip-till requires a different way of managing farm operations. Some farmers might say it’s too much change, or if they’re already no-tilling they may find it very easy to adapt to their operation.

“Strip-till machines are definitely higher maintenance, especially when you get into more rocky conditions,” says Backstrom. “But with good management and maintenance, the benefits far outweigh the cost and time involved,” Backstrom says.

Whether you’ve been strip-tilling for just a few years, 5 years or 15 or more, what have you learned about managing rocks and residue? What helped you turn the corner in making strip-till work?