Strip till for field crop production
General Fertilizer Considerations
Phosphorus and potassium can be band-applied during strip-till operations. Banding phosphorus and potassium allows for a rate reduction of one-third compared with broadcast application on a medium or low-testing soil (University of Minnesota Fertilizer Recommendations, 2001). Phosphorus and potassium also can be applied to crops as starter fertilizer with the planter.
Nitrogen also can be applied using strip-till equipment. However, fall nitrogen application is not recommended in sandier, lighter soils.
Nitrogen can be applied as a starter fertilizer and side dressed later in the growing season. Carrington, N.D., research conducted in 2010 (Endres, Hendrickson, Glatt) show similar plant emergence and stands among tillage systems and fertilizer placement methods. However, among strip-till treatments, in-furrow fertilizer had lower plant densities compared with other methods of applying fertilizer. Grain yield and quality were similar among treatments. However, among strip-till treatments, seed yield was higher with fall deep-band followed by spring in-furrow fertilizer compared with other fertilizer treatments.
The Oakes Irrigation Research Site conducts research on growing continuous corn and corn following soybeans in a strip-till system to determine efficient nitrogen fertilizer rates. Results from these studies can be used to evaluate likely corn yield and quality for various fertilizer rates (W. Albus, L. Besemann and H. Eslinger. 2010). More information is available online at www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/oakes/oakes.htm.
Economics of Strip Till
Investment costs vary depending on the type of equipment, size and accessories purchased. Total investment will run between $3,000 and $4,000 per row. Based on machine width, the investment will run from $1,600 to $2,000 per foot.
Ownership costs are heavily influenced by the amount of use per year and the number of years the equipment can be used. The annual ownership cost of a 24-row tiller is estimated to be $6,306, or $6.31 per acre, based on an estimated annual use on 1,000 acres per year. The estimated annual ownership cost of a six-row tiller would be $1,951, or $4.88 per acre, based on annual usage of 400 acres.
Operating costs include fuel, lubrication, repairs and labor. The total would be $3.16 per acre for a 24-row machine and $4.75 per acre for a six-row machine. The total cost per acre for the 24-row equipment, including the power unit, is estimated to be $11.74 per acre. The total cost for the six-row equipment and power unit is estimated at $12.34 per acre. The smaller equipment has higher operating and tractor ownership costs but lower fixed costs.