COLUMBUS – No-till farmers looking to plant corn after corn this growing season have the option of practicing strip tillage to maintain soil conservation benefits while reducing production issues associated with no-till monoculture crop systems.
Problems. Randall Reeder, an Ohio State University Extension agricultural engineer who specializes in conservation tillage practices, said the same crops or like crops planted in the same field year after year creates a host of issues – from pest buildup to root growth inhibition to yield reduction.
Continuous corn, under no-till production systems, can suffer anywhere from a 5 percent to 15 percent yield reduction compared with no-till corn following soybeans.
“The best production practice is to rotate your crops. But some no-till farmers are going to want to grow corn after corn, and they are going to see the production advantages of some kind of tillage,” said Reeder.
“The challenge is how do we encourage them to do the least amount of tillage as necessary to maintain soil benefits while not losing anything on the production end?”
Strip till. One answer is to strip till. Strip tillage is considered a no-till conservation practice whereby planting and tillage operations are limited to strips and the area between the rows is left untilled with crop residue.
Conservation tillage practices offer a variety of benefits, including: reduction in labor, reduction in machinery wear, increased organic matter, reduced soil erosion, improved soil quality, improved air quality by storing carbon, increased wildlife habitats and a better method of maintaining moisture.
Suggestions. No-till farmers considering strip tillage as an option may want to keep some of the following suggestions in mind:
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