Strip till for field crop production
Most strip-till equipment manufacturers in the northern Great Plains produce strip tillers with 30-inch or 22-inch row spacing. Coulter blades cut through the soil and residue ahead of the tillage shank. The coulters require mounting that allows flexible movement over stones. Some manufacturers use fluted coulters and designs with depth-control features with the coulters. Coulter size influences operation in residue; larger-diameter coulters function better in heavy residue. Parallel linkages on each row unit are desirable on strip tillers operated on soil with large stones or rolling topography because this linkage system allows row assemblies to move over stones or uneven surfaces without interrupting accurate fertilizer placement on adjacent row assemblies.
Row cleaners function to clear residue away from the front of the tillage shank and berm-building disks, leaving a clean, tilled strip. Various manufacturers use unique proprietary designs to clear the tilled area. The row cleaners usually are mounted behind the cutting coulter and a few inches ahead of the tillage shank.
Strip-till equipment needs to be designed to meter accurately and correctly place appropriate amounts of fertilizers in the tilled strips. The ability to apply one or more liquid, gaseous or dry fertilizers is an important design feature of strip-till equipment. The tillage shank penetrates and loosens soil and normally is designed with a fertilizer injection tube to allow application of gaseous, liquid or dry granular fertilizers during the strip-tillage operation. Tillage depth is dependent on the soil type and conditions and the specific crop to be planted.
Berm-building disks are mounted on each side and 6 to 8 inches behind the tillage shank. The disks can be mounted to mound the strip to promote moisture runoff and facilitate soil drying in the spring or, alternatively, mounted to create a slight depression in the soil to catch snow and rain to increase soil moisture for the next crop.
Conditioning baskets are mounted behind each shank to break soil clods and smooth the soil surface. Some manufacturers use rubber packing wheels instead of conditioning baskets. Large clumps likely indicate that the soil is too wet for tillage or adjustments are needed on equipment. Some system of smoothing the soil and breaking clumps is important, particularly if the strip tilling is done immediately prior to planting. Smoothing the tilled strips is less important if strip tilling is done in the fall because winter weather conditions smooth the soil naturally. All components of strip-till machines usually are mounted on three-point tool bar attachments directly to tractors or assembled as pull-type units with wheels. Pull-type designs are more common because they can be used with wider units. Power and
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