Talking with strip-tillers, they tend to have a strong preference for building berms in either spring or fall, often based on experience with both systems.
Fox Lake, Wis., farmer Jonathan Gibbs is no different. When he decided to move from full-width tillage and no-till to strip-tilled corn 4 years ago, most farmers in his area built fall berms.
“At the time, that’s the only strip-till we had seen done,” Gibbs says. “So we had a few fields custom strip-tilled in fall, but we had some of the strips wash out right away and I didn’t like that about the program.”
Come spring, the ground was “hard and tight” and Gibbs didn’t see any advantages over no-till. So he decided to re-strip some corn-on-corn ground the following the spring and was sold on the results.
“Spring strips create an excellent seed bed and we feel our crops got off to a great start because we’re able to expose some of the soil in the strip and warm it up ahead of planting,” he says.
Gibbs runs an 8-row Dawn Pluribus coulter machine to strip-till about 525 acres of corn and applies about 50% of his nitrogen with the rig in the spring strip. He rarely applies any fertilizer in fall and prefers to variable-rate broadcast potassium and phosphorus in spring, based on soil-test results.
He’s been able to top 200 bushels per acre on some of his corn-on-corn ground, but readily admits that strip-till systems are as unique as the individual farmers behind them and what’s working for him, may not work for someone else.
But with one of his strip-till objectives being fewer trips through the field, Gibbs doesn’t want to waste one in the spring to “refresh” strips. So far, he’s is seeing about a $20 net benefit with his spring strip-till system.
“To strip-till in fall and then have to add another pass, I don’t see the advantage,” he says.
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