Alternative tilling methods offer new planting ideas
For a farmer to adopt a no-till or strip-till method requires heavier reliance on herbicides to control weeds.
But Kerry Bowen, a Mini-Cassia farmer, said the benefits outweigh the challenges.
“For guys working in the sand, it’s a heaven-send,” said Bowen. “You can go in and plant and not lose your topsoil.”
Crops have a tough time in some soil because the dirt turns to clay as soon as it gets wet, he said. Strip-tilling solves that problem.
Bowen cut his first crop of hay earlier this summer and then strip-tilled the field to plant beans.
“That worked extremely well,” he said. “It’s keeping the moisture in the ground, and you can still see the hay between the rows of beans.”
The answer to which method works best is seen in the crop yield — and that depends on the crop, Robinson said.
“It varies from crop to crop,” he said. “With wheat, both no-till and tilling ground yielded about the same. With corn, it’s different. You can see a difference in the crop where we’ve tilled and where we haven’t. The corn in the worked ground is taller.”
Bowen has spent seven years using the strip-till method, and it’s taken time to figure out how to make it work effectively, he said.
“I’m getting there with it. I like it because where you don’t till actually retains a lot of moisture,” he said. “But you’ve got to spend some time and figure out how everything works.”