One of more interesting things I’ve learned about strip-till is how the practice can vary from farmer to farmer, depending on their years of experience.
While there are principles to adhere to — noted by Illinois strip-tiller Alan Madison in this edition’s feature story — there’s also no textbook way to strip-till.
I’ve had the pleasure of talking with several veteran strip-tillers, whose fertility programs are more like scientific regimens. But I’ve also connected with relative newcomers who are still feeling their way.
One recent exchange I had was with farm manager Eric Mowitz in Russia, who plans to strip-till this fall for the first time. He manages a whopping 250,000 acres of no-tilled corn, soybeans and wheat, and in September he will strip-till 84,000 acres of corn after wheat for 2014.
Mowitz acknowledges the huge challenge ahead of trying to manage strip-till on such a large scale, and some farmers in the U.S. have commented that high-acre farmers tend to struggle with finding the time and manpower to successfully strip-till.
Having a game plan and clear objective is imperative for any size strip-till operation, but even more so in a situation where it’s never been tried.
“We are the first farm to use strip-till here,” Mowitz says. “We have a problem with cold soils here, as well as some compaction issues, and I’m hoping strip-till can help in these areas.”
The plan is to build strips in the fall with a fleet of 11 16-row strip-till units and apply mostly phosphorous and potassium, with a small amount of nitrogen, Mowitz says. Currently, they broadcast most of their fertilizer ahead of the planters, but Mowitz says this isn’t the best application of nitrogen to the crops.
I’ll check in this fall with Mowitz and see how he fared with setting up the strips. Then next spring, we could talk about what he learned from the experience and how he may change things in the future.
No doubt he will encounter his share of struggles, but if he can find a way to make strip-till work on 84,000 acres, it could be great success story.
Until then, I’d like to hear about your most valuable lessons learned with strip-till. Contact me at 262-782-4480 ext. 441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.
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