Strip-till tips for the northern Plains
Crop Production With Strip Till
Strip-till systems move crop residue from the soil surface over the seedbed, resulting in soil temperatures similar to conventional tillage systems. No-till systems leave residue on the soil surface over the seedbed, resulting in lower soil temperatures compared with tilled soil. University of Minnesota research in southern Minnesota (Stahl, DeJong-Hughes) shows an aggressive strip-till machine can clear away sufficient residue to promote soil warming similar to moldboard plowing in a continuous corn rotation.
In a corn-soybean rotation, soil temperatures were similar for strip till and chisel plow and lower for no till. Similarly, research in the Red River Valley (Prosper, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn.) in 2007 indicated comparable temperatures between conventional tillage and strip till (Overstreet et al., 2007). The soil temperature advantage with strip till compared with no till promotes faster plant emergence and development. This advantage is enhanced when soil temperatures are lower and approach the lower threshold for crop seed germination.
For example, early planted strip-till corn or soybeans likely will emerge sooner than in a no-till system. Earlier plant establishment normally increases crop yield and quality. Earlier emergence and stand establishment also promotes earlier crop canopy closure, reducing mid- and late-season weed seed germination, and providing a better chance for young plants to establish and withstand disease and insect pressure.
Conserves Soil Moisture
Strip tillage on the northern Great Plains in the United States conserves soil moisture by trapping winter snow and reducing evaporation and transpiration losses, resulting in more soil moisture available for plants, particularly later in the growing season during the plant reproductive stages.
When To Strip Till
In the northern Great Plains, strip tillage with fertilizer application usually is performed in the fall after harvest, followed by planting in the spring. Fall tillage allows time for the soil in the berm to smooth during the winter and warm in the spring before crop planting. Strip tillage operations can be performed in the spring, particularly in regions with coarse-textured and lower organic matter content soils. Research conducted in 2007 on loam soil at Carrington, N.D., indicates similar crop yield between fall and spring strip-tillage.
Research indicates strip-tillage works well with crops grown with 30-inch row spacing; however, narrower row spacings also work, but residue management is more difficult with less space for residue. Mounting strip-till units on staggered bars allows residue to flow between strip-till units in narrower row spacing. Strip tillage is used with row crops, such as corn, sugar beets, soybeans, dry beans and sunflowers.
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