There are many innovative ways people can use strip-till, and that includes "bio strip-till," or "bio-drilling" using cover crops. With this practice, strip-tillers use forage radishes and other cover crops to create voids in the soil, rather than using a strip-till rig.
The theory is that the radish roots will loosen the soil, alleviate compaction and then die and decay. Farmers can then plant a crop into these voids in the following spring.
The Conservation Cropping Systems Project (CCSP) near Forman, N.D., tried bio-strip tilling in 2009 at the 160-acre no-till demonstration farm. Kelly Cooper, the farm’s manager, says he decided to try “bio strip-till” after hearing University of Maryland soil professor and cover crops expert Ray Weil talk about the practice.
Scroll through this issue and you can read about the results of CCSP's experiment. After answering questions about bio strip-till for this story, Cooper asked that credit go to the driving force behind the demo farm.
"Even though our farm is supported by grants and donations, the farmer-board members are the driving force that keep it going and contribute time, equipment, seed, repairs and labor," he says.
What these farmers are doing fits precisely with the aims of the Agriculture Council of America’s upcoming "National Ag Week," March 13-19. The goal is to help all Americans "understand how food and fiber products are produced," according to the council.
Cooper says that’s a worthy goal because much of the general public believes, incorrectly, that growers don’t care about the environment and pay little attention to their pesticide and fertilizer application practices.
American agriculture is actually in good hands because of growers who research how strip-till and other forms of conservation tillage be successful.
That’s why No-Till Farmer and Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers sponsor the Responsible Nutrient Management Practitioners award program, and why No-Till Farmer and Syngenta Crop Protection sponsor the No-Till Innovators award program.