Fall strip tillage systems: An introduction
When to Strip Till?
Fall is the best time to perform strip tillage. The ridges will "mellow" during the winter and should be just an inch or two high in spring. After planting, the field should be flat.
It is important not to apply nitrogen in the fall to soils above 50°F as major losses may occur. This creates a timing conflict because strip till should be scheduled immediately after soybean harvest to reduce the risk of the soil getting too wet for the tillage operation. (Nitrogen stabilizer should be added to any fall-applied nitrogen.) A better option is to apply most of the nitrogen after the corn emerges as sidedress.
Strip tillage is not recommended for continuous corn because of the large volume of residue. Following wheat, the straw should be chopped short, and a row cleaner used. Soybean residue is ideal for strip tillage. The combine should chop and evenly spread the residue.
Precautions and Concerns
- Cost of strip tillage equipment
- Power requirement (takes more power than a no-till planter or drill)
- Less advantage, if any, in warm springs when no-till is successful
- Nitrogen application (soil must be below 50°F to reduce losses in fall; early spring anhydrous application destroys or hides the strips)
- Time crunch in fall (must be completed before soil is saturated)
- Finding the rows in spring
- May cause erosion in the row on slopes
- Banding fertilizer effects on the following soybean crop
- Fall tests for nematodes help keep crops healthy
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