Published on Friday, October 1, 2021
Over the past several decades, there has been growing interest by many farmers to adopt different tillage methods for reducing soil erosion, protecting valuable crop residue, conserving soil moisture, and reducing fuel consumption. While there has been successful adoption of no-till cropping systems in many areas to help accomplish several of these goals, some farmers have experienced lower yields and reduced ROI when attempting no-till practices.
In 2009, Beck’s began testing strip-till in Practical Farm Research (PFR)®. At that time, the goal was to compare yields from different common tillage systems. Treatments included conventional (fall chisel plow followed by (fb) spring field cultivation), vertical-till (fall vertical-till fb spring vertical-till), strip-till (fall only), and no-till. All fertilizer was broadcast in these studies. After nine years, the results showed there was a yield advantage with strip-till. The yield reduction in notill was likely due to sub-optimal planting conditions (cooler and wetter soils) compared to other tillage systems.
In 2019, Beck’s initiated additional studies in both corn and soybeans to evaluate what effect a strip freshener has in no-till on emergence, yield, and profitability. Over two years, when a strip freshener was used in the spring, yield advantages in corn and soybeans have been up to 5.4 Bu./A. and 3.3 Bu./A., respectively (data not shown). A spring strip freshener pass allows the soil to warm up quicker and helps minimize residue issues in the seed trench, thereby allowing better uniformity of emergence and greater plant stands.
There is growing interest in strip-till systems to apply fertilizer in the strip, thereby creating a “nutrient-rich zone.” This method also helps reduce potential fertilizer loss through soil erosion compared to broadcast applications without incorporation. In 2019, Beck’s initiated studies to compare dry fertilizer placement in conventional, strip-till, and no-till systems. We hypothesize that fertilizer use efficiency may be increased when banding phosphorus, potassium, and potentially other nutrients that are not very mobile in the soil. Reduced rates of MAP (11-52-0) and Potash (0- 0-60) were evaluated in 2019 and 2020 at various locations. Results have been mixed, however, there is evidence that early-season plant growth and root development, when P and K are banded in a strip-till system, is equal to or better than a broadcast application.
Yield and ROI results are currently preliminary, however limited data from 2019 and 2020 suggest a reduced rate of fertilizer (P and K) in a strip-till environment can lead to higher ROI through reduced fertilizer costs. It’s important to note that the highest yield has not always been in treatments where fertilizer rates were reduced in strip-till. Watch for additional results from these studies conducted in 2021 in this year’s PFR Book.
Author: Chad Kalaher
Categories: CropTalk, 2021
Beck’s Hybrids team sales agronomist for 22 counties in NE ¼ of IL and 7 counties in NW IN. Raised on grain and livestock farm in southern IL. B.S. Agronomy 1995 – University of Illinois, M.S. Weed Science 1997 – North Carolina State University. Previous positions in seed industry as researc
Beck’s Hybrids team sales agronomist for 22 counties in NE ¼ of IL and 7 counties in NW IN. Raised on grain and livestock farm in southern IL. B.S. Agronomy 1995 – University of Illinois, M.S. Weed Science 1997 – North Carolina State University. Previous positions in seed industry as research agronomist, district, and regional sales manager.