Strip-till considerations in Oklahoma
Conservation tillage practices are used throughout the southern Great Plains to reduce soil erosion and conserve soil moisture. Conservation tillage maintains residue at the surface. Increased surface residue provides insulation, reduces average soil temperatures, and prevents evaporative losses of soil moisture when compared to bare soils. The reduction in soil temperature can cause problems with some spring planted crops such as corn. For example, spring time soil temperatures and wet soil moisture conditions can delay or hinder crop germination in no-till systems that have a large amount of surface residue. Soil temperature has significant effects on plant growth and metabolic functions. Strip-tillage is one potential solution to address cool soil temperatures during spring planting. Strip-tillage is the removal of mulch/residue in the seed row to encourage more rapid spring warming of bare soil. Strip-till machines usually consist of a coulter followed by a knife/ shank that penetrates 4 to 8 inches below the soil surface. Discs are set behind the knife/shank to close the gap left by the knife and build a small berm. Some strip-till machines have roller baskets on the back to help level the tilled zone.
- soil conservation.
- increased soil temperature.
- fertility management.
Strip-till provides the benefits of both no-till and conventional till systems. Maintaining inter-row residue will maintain no-tillage advantages, such as reduced evaporation of soil moisture, while increasing soil temperature in the seed row. Figure 1 illustrates the difference that is often observed in early spring between soil temperatures in strip-till and no-till systems. In 2003, research at Manhattan, Kan., showed strip-till was 4.9°F warmer on average than no-till. Soil temperature is especially important when planting early in the spring when air temperatures often get very cool at night. In Oklahoma, producers planting corn early in heavy residue conditions may see a yield response to strip-till.
Another potential benefit of strip-till is increased options for N management. With strip-till, relatively large amounts of N fertilizer can be placed below the soil (6 to 8 inches) surface Oklahomaprior to planting without fear of salt injury. With fertilizer attachments on a no-till planter, you are limited to how much N can be applied by the distance from the seed the fertilizer is placed. Typically, N application rates at planting do not exceed 50 lbs N per acre. Other nutrients such as phosphors and potassium can be placed deep as well, but deep placement of these nutrients will not guarantee a grain yield response compared to shallow placement of nutrients.
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