The Roundup -

Less Input, Increased Production Goal of Strip Tillage


February 21, 2018 | View PDF

Strip tillage, the method where only the narrow strip of land to be planted is actually tilled, is in the trial stages. With only a 4 to 6” strip disturbed, the process leaves a lot of residue on the ground, helping to reduce inputs and erosion from wind and water.

Sidney Sugars agriculturalist James Johnson for the Savage, Pleasant View, and Powder River areas, has more growers in his area doing no till and strip till. About 30% of his growers use the reduced tillage practices.

The trials involve multiple variables including irrigation methods, spacing, ridging and soil type.

He sees a 50-50 split between flood and pivot irrigation with the three-year average showing better yield and sugar content with pivots. The three-year average also shows the highest yield on 26” spacing but only about 15% of the growers use that spacing, all of which are up in the Sugar Valley area. Most growers are 22-24” spacing partly due to equipment manufacturing. Ridging, which is done in the fall, usually provides higher yields plus it helps when doing flood irrigation.

85-90% of the test beets follow small grains such as wheat or barley, usually providing the highest yield and sugar content. Beets can also follow corn or pinto beans but the yields are typically lower and disease such as rhizoctonia can be a problem.

If the trials can show positive results, including higher production with less costs, strip till and no till may become the way of the future.


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