Strip tillage for high-residue irrigated cropping systems
• Power needed. Up to 30 horsepower per row may be required. Horsepower requirements depend on the type of tillage unit, shank depth, soil moisture, and speed of tillage. For best results, follow manufacturer recommendations.
• Invest in a quality machine. Strip tillage is still a relatively new concept and advances in machines may help your strip tillage succeed. Also, if a large area will be covered, a RTK GPS system will likely be beneficial, since tolerances are less than 1 inch.
• Allow more time for learning a new farming system. Start with managing the residue of the previous crop and then work out your whole crop rotation.
• Stay on the row. Planting in the center of the strip tillage row will be worth your time, effort and money.
• Apply fertilizer in row. Producers should take advantage of being able to deep-band nutrients, especially immobile nutrients in the soil, such as phosphorus and potassium. Deep banding will increase efficiency and reduce phosphorus losses in runoff to surface water. Application of immobile nutrients can be done in the fall, when more time may be available. Tubes for liquid (figure 14) or dry fertilizer (figure 6) are placed down each ripper shank.
• Avoid compaction in strip tillage row. When applying herbicides or other applications after strip tillage, avoid compaction in the row as much as possible, because you will have a strong impact on your seed bed. When applying herbicide, consider applying it perpendicularly to the strips in the field.
• Row cleaners on planters. Use residue managers to move any residue off the row.
• Don’t conduct strip tillage or plant when it’s too wet. Conducting stripping tillage when it is too wet will cause compaction (at the depth of the shank). Planting when it is too wet will cause sidewall compaction (smear the sidewalls), which may inhibit root growth and reduce yields.
• Anticipate new weed problems. You may need to select a different herbicide to combat weeds that were normally controlled by tillage. Especially keep an eye out for an increase in perennial weeds.
• Crops to consider under strip tillage. When just starting strip tillage, it is easier to start with a large-seed crop, such as corn. Sugar beet and other small-seeded crops require a cleaner strip to plant. Cutting wheat or barley stubble 8 to 12 inches and baling is helpful when growing sugar beets.
• Clay soils. Strip tillage on clay soils, when soil moisture is too dry, causes clods. Strip tillage when soil moisture is too wet causes compaction and smearing. Fall strip tillage allows time for clods to break down and for the strip to become mellower with freezing and thawing over winter. Clods may be an issue where wheel traffic has compacted soils.
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