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10 Strip-Till Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Selection of suitable fields- There is one common mistake that farmers make when it comes to strip till. They try it in all the wrong places so they fail just before they begin. This was a remark given by an SDSU Extension soil specialist. He noted that farmers always try strip till on wet soil that that would better respond to other methods like full-width tillage or they use it on topographies that have too many curves or ones that are oddly shaped making it difficult for the farmer to focus and stay on the strip. He suggested that farmers should try strip- till on dry soils first as these have greater potential for a yield boost. Flat fields are also better as his makes it easier for a farmer to stay on the strip.
  2. Remaining on the same row- The soil specialist also added that unless farmers have a really good auto guidance system with RTK technology, it will be hard to stay on the row even on the flat grounds let alone the oddly shaped and the sloppy topographies. Pairing the row width of your strip tiller to the row width of your planter helps you line up properly. The inability to see strips limits the work you can do per day. To make sure that the seed and the fertilizer are placed properly, you will need the sub-inch accuracy from RTK auto steer. However, it is not always perfect even with the RTK auto steer because sometimes the satellite reception might become weak.
  3. Building the strips in autumn-The main reasons why farmers make strips during the fall is because it is more convenient at that time. Most of the farmers are not so busy and also the soil is dry and this helps because it breaks up easily and also the fertilizer applied at this time also has a bit of time to break down. Experts suggest that it is better to make strips in the spring mainly because of the easy management of nitrogen at that time. Arnold prefers this because he can best manage the nitrogen at that time by applying in the strips with the strip tiller and potassium with the planter. Gerwings the soil specialist points out that sometimes the weather becomes wet and snow fall early making it hard to make strips at that time. Arnold says that the modified Dawn Equipment Pluribus strip-till units on an Ag Systems anhydrous toolbar machine uses trash wheels and coulters to prepare the seedbed placing the fertilizer 3-4 inch deep. Building strips in the autumn also covers for risk management. Qualm adds that by strip-tilling in the autumn it always minimized the risks of the weather getting wet which would in turn make it harder for him. Arnold on the other hand prefers making hi strips in the spring. His modified machinery makes darker strips that are easier to see and they leave no trash in the row.
  4. Stop mixing trash with dirt-Hawthorne who uses a DMI anhydrous toolbar with a regular mole knife and 18-in. cover disks with a smooth edge to help shape a mound in the strip says that their planter finger units roll the trash away to keep it from interfering with the seed-to-soil contact. This highly increases the yield levels. He adds that strip-till will give you the perfect seedbed unless you steer away from the cultivated row. Qualm who uses a John Deere 1760 12-row planter with Yetter shark-tooth residue managers says that you need to have good trash managers on your planter to keep trash away from the strips. Qualm has experimented with strip-tilling on corn to corn and it worked. An Orthman row-stalker was pulled through the field cutting the stalks right from the ground and throwing up just a little dirt which in turn allowed the strip-tiller to run through the row without plugging up.
  5. Watch the depth- Qualm advises that to achieve a good and consistent fertilizer depth, you may want to acquire a strip tiller with individual parallel linkage. Randal cautions farmers that they should not make strips that are past 6-8 inches deep. He also adds that parallel linkage would be very helpful in achieving this.
  6. Ensure you have adequate horsepower- Bob Frazee who is a University of Illinois Extension natural resources educator points out that although strip-till requires less horse power, the farmer will need adequate horse power for their strip-till applicator to match with the planter width. He also adds that farmers will need more horsepower if they phosphorous and potassium when they strip-till.
  7. Acquire good machinery- Randall says that using old machinery while strip-tilling should be avoided. He suggests that farmers use the newer technology machines for perfect results. In large farm units, he says that the farmer will need more efficient and larger strip-till machines to makes sure that the strips are made early enough before winter.
  8. Compacting strips should be avoided- When running sprayers or fertilizer applicators, you should keep the tire tracks off the ridges to avoid compacting the seedbed Frazee cautions. To minimize compaction, an RTK guidance system will help control the traffic patterns on the ridges therefore minimizing compaction.
  9. Always expect weed shifts- Hawthorne notes that it is a lot easier to be caught off guard by weeds when switching to strip-tillage for the first time. You will be forced to think more about weeds on your seedbed after some funny weeds start showing up due to less tillage. Hawthorne advises farmers to always be ready for that and also be very flexible in timing herbicides applications to tackle the new species of weed that appear.
  10. Anticipate objection- Change must be appreciated and embraced for it to be effective. However, this is not the case with some landlords especially if they are retired. They will tend to think that tillage is the best way to go and they are resistant to change. You should expect some objections and to counter these, you must have all the facts that you need on hand. You will need to make them understand how strip-tilling works and explain to them how changing from tillage to strip-tilling is going to be better.

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