What is strip-till?
Strip-till is a system in which residue-free strips of soil are tilled ahead of planting using a knife apparatus such as a fertilizer injection shank. The strips are approximately 6 inches wide or about 1/3 the row width and 4 to 8 inches deep. These strips are cleared of residue and tilled for warming and drying purposes either before or during the planting operation. Fertilizer is often incorporated at time of strip tillage for better seed placement. The seeds are planted directly into the strip of loosened soil.
Where soil moisture conditions are suitable, strip-till creates narrow-width tilled strips, traditionally in the fall, to increase early spring soil moisture evaporation and increase soil temperature in the top 2 inches.
How it helps the land
Strip-till systems provide many benefits:
- Reducing water erosion.
- Reducing wind erosion.
- Improving soil organic matter content.
- Reduce CO2 losses from the soil.
- Manage snow and water to increase available moisture.
- Provide food and escape cover for wildlife.
- Allows for injecting nutrients directly into row areas.
- Improved germination due to increased soil temperatures
- Conserve energy.
Where the practice applies
Strip-till is normally used as a component of a resource management system. It should be used in conjunction with crop rotation, nutrient management, pest management, various structures and buffer practices needed to address natural resource concerns and the landowner’s objectives identified during the planning process. A strip till system is most beneficial in areas with cooler, poorly drained soils.
Where to get help For assistance in planning and establishing a strip-till systems on your farm contact your Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office. For more job sheets and conservation information visit the NRCS website at www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Strip tillage creates an environment favorable for rapid seed germination and growth while providing excellent residue management and erosion control. Other potential advantages from strip tillage compared to no-till include optimum fertilize placement for plant uptake, reduce compaction in the seed zone, warmer seed bed, earlier planting, ideal soil moisture and structure for seed-to-soil contact, rapid and more extensive early root growth, reduced disease pressure to the small seedling, greater early season plant growth, and reduced losses of nutrients (primarily P) in surface runoff water due to subsurface banding of fertilizers .
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