One of the ways growing numbers of farmers around the world are helping ensure the sustainability of their land for future generations is through conservation tillage practices such as no-till and strip-till.
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.
Always looking for a way to boost crop yields and reduce water usage, many farmers are shaking up the established method of preparing fields and planting seeds. Greater yields, less water use and richer soil are some primary benefits they see from new methods.
The trend among northern Plains farmers is toward using less tillage to produce field crops with more residue left on the soil surface and strip-till is one system being utilized in the area. Researchers from South Dakota State University detail some of the benefits and considerations for implementing and managing strip-till.
Strip tillage is designed for row crops in which only a 9- to 12-inch wide strip is tilled and planted, and the ground between the rows is left undisturbed. The depth of tillage varies with producer and equipment but can be up to 14 inches deep.
Strip-tillage decreases both the volume of soil that is disturbed and the amount of dust that is typically generated in intercrop tillage, and it also reduces fuel, labor, and equipment costs when compared with traditional broadcast tillage.
Strip-tillage is a relatively new reduced tillage system in the Central Corn Belt that protects soil from erosion, retains plant-available water, maintains soil structure and retains soil organic matter, and allows banding of fertilizers for more efficient plant uptake.