The return of strip till
With Balkwill’s project, he’s hoping the spring of 2014 will bring an opportunity to test strip till on soybeans. It’s well accepted that strip till is regarded as more of a corn-planting technique, but Balkwill believes stripped soybeans may work too.
“We’re going to be stripping our 30-inch beans to see what kind of response we’ll get,” Balkwill says. “They start with a bunch of variable-rate seeds with soybeans, and we’re actually dropping the populations down to (a range between) 100,000 to 190,000 in one field, and we’ll put in low populations in rich soil, and we limit moulds and growth, and we’ll get dry-down with a bit more even maturity.”
Balkwill adds that the yields have been consistent and the economics have been better, so some farmers are considering dropping their seeding costs a little bit. He’s eager to see how the crop responds to all of these management parameters with the strip-till layer under the soil surface. Soybean roots, he says, are more passive, which means they don’t go down into the soil very deep, and to get the added penetration and moisture conservation and nutrient setup that comes with a strip-till regimen is something he believes is worth testing. And he thinks strip-till soybeans will become something that more growers try to incorporate into their operations.
If there’s a hurdle to overcome with strip tilling soybeans, it’ll be the setup into 30-inch corn rows. Balkwill says that some growers are looking at running 15s on either side of 30-inch corn rows. Or some that run 30-inch corn and 20-inch soybeans may just move their soybean rows two inches either side.
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