Talking with strip-tillers this time of year, many are anxious to see what their ground looks like underneath the remaining snowpack as they prepare for planting.

For those strip-tillers who prefer to build their berms in spring, this is a time to revisit their row unit setups and consider any modifications. 

Veteran strip-tiller Jeremy Gustafson is making this a priority after switching strip-till rigs recently. Wear and tear took its toll on the unit he’d been running for years, and while Gustafson likes the performance of his new machine, it didn’t come with a rolling basket, an integral part of his old setup.

“Last year, not having that basket running behind the row units meant there was nothing to firm up the ground and the dirt just fell back into the strip,” Gustafson says. “That’s great if we were planting an hour later, but we prefer to wait a week, and getting a 2-inch rain in that window we saw some soil movement.”

Gustafson went the manufacturer, which didn’t offer a rolling basket as an attachment. So he began scouting for answers elsewhere and through an article published in No-Till Farmer’s Conservation Tillage Guide, found a potentially adaptable setup on Ohio strip-tiller Brian Watkins’ spring rig, which features a coulter and a rolling basket.

Gustafson admits there’s no guarantee that adapting the setup will have the same level of success, given that he and Watkins farm in in different areas — but it’s worth a shot. Rather than cross his fingers for a drier spring, Gustafson is taking a proactive approach to ensure that he’ll have a high-quality seedbed to plant into, regardless of the weather.

He understands strip-till manufacturers produce equipment for a broad customer base, but he’d like them to realize conditions aren’t the same in every state.

“I’ve talked with guys who can explain how they built a rig, but they must also understand that it might be going to 48 states and the same setup isn’t going to work everywhere,” he says. “Why not offer different options to suit different areas, especially if guys are making it work on their own?”

What is one thing manufacturers could add to your strip-till unit from the factory to make it more adaptable to your fields? Call me at (262) 782-4480, ext. 441, or send me an e-mail at