Consider the strip-tillage alternative
Strip-tillage is best suited to poorly drained, wet, cold soils where seed germination is delayed. This tillage system helps dry and warm soils in the spring, easing planter operation and promoting germination. Enhanced efficiency is another potential benefit when manure injection is incorporated into the tillage operation, reducing passes over the field. Because most farmers already have the strip tillage equipment accessible (such as in-row chisels and ammonia applicator knives), specialized equipment may not need to be purchased.
These benefits must be weighed against a variety of potential concerns. For instance, strip-tillage can induce erosion, particularly in highly erodible soils. Strip-tillage also can contribute to soil compaction between tilled zones.
Nitrogen fertilizer application in the spring can be problematic due to the potential effect on seed germination. In the fall, farmers must consider whether there is enough labor to manage both the harvest and strip tillage. Tractor horsepower also must be considered when the tillage depth and load resistance are increased.
Strip-tillage, when carefully considered and evaluated, can be a viable alternative to farmers in particular circumstances.
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