When West Union, Iowa, strip-tiller Loran Steinlage built his first berms 10 years ago, he did it with an old planter stripped down to just row cleaners. Steinlage strip-tills about 700 acres of corn-on-corn.
By Alan Meijer, Extension Associate: Tillage & Soil Management Soil Science, North Carolina State University Extension
Tillage options require careful consideration before purchase. In addition to common methods involving a combination of a chisel plow, disk and field cultivator, growers also have two conservation tillage equipment options available: no-till and strip-till.
For more than 20 years, a less-is-more approach has defined the strip-till operation of Iowa farmer Kyle Schminke. He got his start working with Shellsburg, Iowa, farmer Homer Showman and today strip-tills about 1,000 acres of corn and no-tills 1,000 acres of soybeans.
Farmers have increasingly shifted away from conventional tillage to some form of reduced tillage. In part, this reflects efforts to control labor, fuel, and maintenance costs as well as the recognition that tillage can contribute to a decrease in overall soil health.
Growers need to understand that strip-till equipment is unique. It may function flawlessly in mellow soils that break and crumble in textbook fashion. In other conditions, the strip-till unit may need to function as a primary tillage tool operating in hard, compacted soils that are wet, rock and stone infested, and are nearly impossible to break into manageable pieces.