Finding a strip-till setup to best suit your soil type, farm size and budget isn’t always easy, especially if there aren’t opportunities to test and see equipment at work.
This was a challenge that Kimball, S.D., farmer Todd Boesen encountered when he first transitioned his corn operation to strip-till 5 years ago. While there were a number of custom strip-till operators in the south-central part of the state, Boesen says he didn’t have a clear sense of where to start.
After traveling to neighboring states to research equipment, he started small and purchased a used custom rig from a farmer in Iowa. Over time, he’s developed his fertility program and upgraded equipment to the point of wanting to give other farmers a proper introduction to strip-till.
“I had one farmer who had some custom strip-till done tell me that all he understood about it was that it’s for putting fertilizer in the ground,” Boesen says. “I said, ‘OK, do you know if they did a decent job building your strips, or if they were deep enough or how their rig was set up?’”
These questions and others led Boesen to the conclusion that farmers can get the wrong impression about strip-till, if they don’t have any idea how the equipment works. So in early June, he organized a field day on his farm and invited 12 different manufacturers to come out and demonstrate their strip-till equipment. Eight companies accepted the invite and the majority ran their strip-till rigs in corn and wheat stubble.
The event drew about 30 farmers from as far as northern North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa. “I wanted to give farmers the chance to see different kinds of equipment in the field at once, and how their strips should look, so they can at least have an idea — whether they’re hiring someone or doing it themselves — if it’s being done right.”
Though he doesn’t consider himself a strip-till ambassador, Boesen acknowledges that he wants to do what he can to make sure farmers succeed in strip-till. A lack of information, or the wrong information about the practice can sour farmers from the start.
While strip-till may not be ideal for everyone, being able to make informed economic decisions on the type of equipment needed to suit soil types, increases the chances for success.
For Boesen, it’s about educating farmers on how to get the job done right, because building strips “willy-nilly” can end up costing time and money.
What was your biggest challenge with getting started with strip-till? Feel free to contact me at 262-782-4480 ext. 441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.