Strip-till tips for the northern Plains
North Dakota and Minnesota research shows corn yields are similar or higher when strip till is used compared with other tillage methods. The University of Minnesota Extension compared four tillage systems for corn following soybeans on farm fields in 2004 and 2005 (DeJong-Hughes and Vetsch, 2007). The average daily temperatures were below normal in 2004, resulting in higher corn yields with strip till compared with no till and conventional till. The 2005 growing season was warmer than average, resulting in all tillage methods producing excellent corn yields while maintaining adequate residue cover to protect the soil from erosion.
Another ongoing study started in 2007 in southern Minnesota with a continuous corn rotation shows corn yields grown in strip-tilled soil were similar or higher than with other tillage systems in all situations except when soil conditions are too wet to properly operate strip-till machines in the fall. This research uses moldboard plowing, disk ripping and strip till on a continuous corn field to study the effects of residue placement on seedling emergence, soil temperature and grain yield. The soils at the site ranged from loam to heavy clay loam, with poor internal drainage and no tile drainage.
Four years of North Dakota corn research conducted at Carrington and Fargo in 2007-10 (Endres, Franzen and Overstreet) on fall strip till shows yields were 6 bushels per acre greater than with conventional till. At Carrington, corn was grown in 30-inch rows on a loam soil, and at the Red River Valley sites in 22-inch rows.
Dry Edible Beans
Dry edible bean production using strip till significantly reduces soil erosion potential compared with conventional tillage. Moisture conservation is an additional benefit in arid areas. The obvious disadvantage with strip-till beans is changing harvest strategies. Strip-till edible beans require direct harvest, which potentially increases harvest loss. However, reduced harvesting equipment, time and labor, and potentially improved seed quality may offset increased harvest losses.
Preliminary data in 2007 and 2009-10 by NDSU researchers at Carrington with fall strip-till pinto beans indicate potential for similar seed yield compared with conventionally tilled bean, and greater than with no till.
Production advantages may be gained with strip till for soybeans in arid areas because of moisture conservation, or if the crop is planted early because of warmer soils compared with no till. NDSU research during 2005-10 indicated soybean yields of 2 bushels more per acre with strip till compared with conventional till or no till (Endres, Franzen and Overstreet).
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