On the drive from Brookfield, Wis., to Decatur, Ill., with two of my No-Till Farmer colleagues to this year’s Farm Progress Show, we had about 400 miles of windshield time to pass — some of which was admittedly spent lamenting the state of our pro baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers.

But I also took time to observe dozens of corn and soybean fields we passed along the way, some looking better than others, and thought about what shape strip-tillers will find their soils in once the combines finish harvesting.

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one. In talking with several strip-till manufacturers at Farm Progress, they noted the rollercoaster weather patterns that Midwestern farmers have seen in the last year, and the importance of making sure their strip-till rigs are equipped to handle whatever field conditions they may encounter.

In this edition’s feature story, we’re sharing advice manufacturers have for strip-tillers to better prepare their machines before building berms or applying fertilizer this fall.

The company representatives I spoke with said routine maintenance is a must to maximize efficiency of any strip-till machine. But it was interesting that they also emphasized the importance of evaluating field conditions and precision technology as equally important.

“Strip-tillers can’t afford to just pull the machine out of the shed and go. You’ve got to have a whole game plan in place before you hit the field, says David Fickel, territory manager with Thurston Mfg./Blu-Jet.

Strip-tillers should do an analysis of soil health and nutrient contents after harvest to fine-tune fertilizer application, and update technology to make sure the right data is being collected and stored, manufacturers say.

The maintenance checklist for strip-tillers seems to get longer each year, but it’s worth making sure “all systems are a go” before those seeds go into the ground next spring.

What kind of items are on your strip-till maintenance checklist? Send me an e-mail, or contact me at 262-782-4480, ext. 441.