With many 1tRIPr’s starting to run this spring there are agronomic goals to keep in mind. At Orthman we have 3 Principles of Strip Till that we feel need to be addressed on every acre of strip tillage:
- Ideal Seedbed Preparation
- Precision Nutrient Management
- Optimal Root Zone Conditioning
As an agronomist, I target the 1tRIPr to fulfill all 3 of the above mentioned principles. To do any of these and not accomplish ALL of them can cost you yield. I challenge each farmer that strip tills to stop and think how he can improve what he is doing. There is a very good chance that your bottom line will increase.
1) Ideal Seedbed Preparation: When the strip till unit leaves the field the planter must be able to run very smoothly on the berm that you have built. I feel this berm must be higher than the soil out of the berm but not more than 1” higher. Please remember that seed to soil contact, even spacing and seed depth are critical. Many studies suggest that a plant that emerges 36 hours later than other plants should be considered a weed! And, one study even cuts that down to 12 hours delayed emergence.
Early plant health and crop vigor can improve yield potential. One large reason to help early vigor is the increased temperature of the soil in the strip till berm. Another factor when doing a correct job creating a berm is you can increase water infiltration rate by changing soil pore sizes.
2) Precision Nutrient Placement: There are farmers that strip till but don’t apply fertilizers. In my 27 years of agronomy work, I have seen that failure reduce yield potential and efficiencies. You have a prime opportunity to place nutrients in a proper position! Not only do not only have the opportunity to choose dry fertilizer, liquid fertilizer, or anhydrous, you can choose proper depth, and in many situations can do MULTIPLE depths at one time. At Orthman we do have data that show you may get close to a 30 bushel improvement on corn by proper nutrient placement.
3) Optimal Root Zone Conditioning: Root Zone Conditioning is overlooked by many producers; make sure to take time to dig in the soil to see what your shank is doing. Behind many operations it has been noted that you are not leaving the soil in proper shape for maximum root growth. The first common mistake is we leave hard layers (commonly called smears) that roots can’t penetrate. By doing this you reduce your root growth that affects plant health and yield. We need to make sure we have a shank that shatters soil and compaction zones.
Soil voids are also something we want to stay away from. If we have any voids it will affect the planter running smooth, seed depth and placement. It also allows your berm to dry out and you will not maximize existing moisture.
Precision Tillage System Agronomist