Strip till for field crop production
Conserves Soil Moisture
Strip tillage on the northern Great Plains in the United States conserves soil moisture by trapping winter snow and reducing evaporation and transpiration losses, resulting in more soil moisture available for plants, particularly later in the growing season during the plant reproductive stages.
When to Strip Till?
In the northern Great Plains, strip tillage with fertilizer application usually is performed in the fall after harvest, followed by planting in the spring. Fall tillage allows time for the soil in the berm to smooth during the winter and warm in the spring before crop planting. Strip tillage operations can be performed in the spring, particularly in regions with coarse-textured and lower organic matter content soils. Research conducted in 2007 on loam soil at Carrington, N.D., indicates similar crop yield between fall and spring strip tillage.
Strip-till Practices for Crop Production
Research indicates strip tillage works well with crops grown with 30-inch row spacing; however, narrower row spacings also work, but residue management is more difficult with less space for residue. Mounting strip-till units on staggered bars allows residue to flow between strip-till units in narrower row spacing. Strip tillage is used with row crops, such as corn, sugar beets, soybeans, dry beans and sunflowers.
North Dakota and Minnesota research shows corn yields are similar or higher when strip till is used compared with other tillage methods. The University of Minnesota Extension compared four tillage systems for corn following soybeans on farm fields in 2004 and 2005 (DeJong-Hughes and Vetsch, 2007). The average daily temperatures were below normal in 2004, resulting in higher corn yields with strip till compared with no till and conventional till. The 2005 growing season was warmer than average, resulting in all tillage methods producing excellent corn yields while maintaining adequate residue cover to protect the soil from erosion.
Another ongoing study started in 2007 in southern Minnesota with a continuous corn rotation shows corn yields grown in strip-tilled soil were similar or higher than with other tillage systems in all situations except when soil conditions are too wet to properly operate strip-till machines in the fall. This research uses moldboard plowing, disk ripping and strip till on a continuous corn field to study the effects of residue placement on seedling emergence, soil temperature and grain yield. The soils at the site ranged from loam to heavy clay loam, with poor internal drainage and no tile drainage.
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