What's the definition of strip-till? Everyone seems to be searching for that definition, and there are several opinions of it. Orthman has been at the forefront of strip-tillage since the late 1990s, and we have worked closely with operators and researchers to gather data from both an agronomic and input-cost standpoints. View a list of our University and private research projects on this Google map.
After all the research, we view strip-till as a 4-level process or system, rather than a single function of pulling a 1tRIPr through the field. In other words, to get the full benefits that strip-tilling has to offer, you must look past the act of deep-ripping and fertilizing and include the other processes - including vertical tilling, residue management, fertilizer placement, and seedbed preparation.
Vertical tillage is the act of eliminating soil compaction, allowing root development (rather than simple horizontal growth), and enhanced water percolation in and between the rows. Standard tillage (and no tillage, when you examine it) cause the soil to become incredibly "hard" at a certain depth. Agronomist Mike Petersen wrote an excellent article, Why EVERY row crop farmer should strip-till, at PrecisionTillage.com.
Residue Management is similar to no-till when examined from a 'disturbance' standpoint- but unlike no-till, stip-tillage creates soil changes that allows water to infiltrate below the topsoil. This infiltration can help prevent standing water and bogging that are common with compacted no-till. And, like no-till, the unincorporated residue also acts as a weed barrier and moisture block.
Fertilizer application in strip-till allows for dual-placed nutrients at different depths for early, healthy root development.
Seedbed preparation is the act of creating an optimum, fertile environment for the seed. The Orthman 1tRIPr is a master at seedbed preparation, allowing for mild, warmed soil that no-till cannot offer.
As researchers and growers see the benefits of strip-tillage, the practice will continue to spread throughout the U.S. and the world, both in irrigated and dryland applications. Research on the Orthman Experimental Farm and at other cooperative research sites across the U.S. show increased yields, lower input costs, fuel and labor savings, reduced wear-and-tear on equipment, and enhanced water conservation. Strip-tilling truly offers the best of both worlds - the conservation aspects of no-till, plus increased yields and soil quality of conventional tillage.