By Alexis Dunnum, NFU Intern
As discussed in the recent Climate Column post on no-till farming, practicing alternatives to tilling can increase the amount of organic matter in the soil, allowing for water retention even during dry periods. Another tilling alternative that has the many of the same soil benefits is strip-till.
Strip-till is a conservation tillage practice that is being adopted by more farmers each year to improve soil health and lessen the chance of erosion. The method works, as the name implies, by tilling strips rather than plowing the whole field. By doing this, some residue is left on the surface while still allowing a cleared space for the seedbed.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service states some benefits to the soil from strip-till operations include “increasing organic matter, improving soil tilth, and increasing productivity as the constant supply of organic material left of the soil surface is decomposed by a healthy population of earthworms and other organisms.”
In 2015, the University of Illinois concluded a five-year study about the effects of this practice and found that strip-till sets the stage for an optimal seedbed that results in quicker as well as a more even emergence of corn and soybeans.
Are you a farmer that practices strip-till? How has this practice impacted your farming operation? Let us know your thoughts and experiences with this practice in the comments section!
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