Verified FBN Member (WI)
Agronomy

Fertilizer application... strip till vs broadcast

I'm looking at changing our fertilizer program up. We currently run all no till and broadcast all of our npk. Wondering if anyone has used a strip till machine for something like this? Advantages/disadvantages?

Verified FBN Member (CO)

It’ll work well for row crops. Small grains either broadcast it or if you have an airseeder put it on that way.

We’ve tried strip till twice. 1st was with an orthman and the tool was good, not great. Too many bearings, but the biggest issue was we tried that time in a drought. Nothing worked in those years. Next time we tried with a homemade setup we bought. Worked great the 1st year, mixed results 2nd & 3rd year. It really needed a better sealer/firmer than what it had with the two disks. The year it worked, the corn didn’t show any stress all season. No tip back, no leaf curling, no early yellowing, nothing. Best looking corn we have ever grown. I chalk it up to having the fertilizer down 6” for the roots to hit when the plant needed the extra boost to stay going.

If you can seal your strip, I think you’ll be fine. If you have a crappy strip, you’ll cuss strip till all year.

Verified FBN Member (SD)

Broadcast application of P in no till is not very efficient since P is a fairly immobile nutrient. Strip till is way more efficient and you can reduce your P and K rates by a third vs broadcast. Just make sure you do it in the fall so soil has time to settle over winter and don’t have air pockets. Make sure you pay attention to the down force on the row units on the planter that you’re get proper seeding depth.

Verified FBN Member (IL)

I’ve been strip tilling since the mid 90’s. Obviously I like it. Save on fertilizer expense and yields have increased and been more consistent.

Drawbacks are

1. A skilled operator is needed to run equipment , there’s a lot going on. I VRT NPK and things don’t always run like there suppose to.

2. RTK is needed, if you don’t plant on the strip it’s a waist of time.

3. Slow, I’m lucky to get 240 acres stripped in a day. Broadcast can do 2-3 times that pretty easily.

Verified FBN Member (KS)

I wouldn't exactly classify what I am doing as strip till but started using a dual placement NH3 and dry fertilizer applicator from AgSynergy about 4 years ago. No till and broadcast P and K for many years prior to this.

I love the idea of getting the P and K down closer to the root zone of my corn and think it has made yields more consistent over all types of ground.

The AgSynergy applicator does a great job of putting the P and K down 4-6" in the ground with minimal ground disturbance. Leaves a very nice finished surface to plant into whether you use it in the fall or the spring.

Verified FBN Member (SD)

I've been wanting to do strips for several years now. I just can't bring myself to pull the trigger for a couple reasons: 1) with <1000 acres and the information I have, I can't seem to ROI the equipment price, 2) dry vs liquid, and 3) how much is the fertilizer efficiency (ie. yield gain) worth?

I like the idea of Brad's setup (above). What's a budget for something like that?

I've considered building my own, but I'd like to answer questions #2 and #3 above first.

Opinions?

Verified FBN Member (MN)

We have been using strip till for 3 years now. The comment about RTK and a skilled operator is spot on. Getting the work done in the fall here in Minnesota is very critical so finding the right days and nights for doing your strips is important. We found a decent 12 row twin bin machine that is entry level and are doing about 1500 acres a year. from what we have learned, it doesn't pay to strip for beans after corn so focus on the acres going to corn and no till your beans. We love the fertilizer placement with the strips, the cost savings in fuel and being able to plant in the spring more timely because all the prep work is done. We do have hydraulic down force on the planter and cab controlled row cleaners and both of those really help. We use fieldview and when we have looked at the analytics the system is working for us. I am pretty confident we will never go back to full width tillage. But, there is certainly a learning curve and you must be committed to the LEARNING part. Get your mind right, figure out what success should look like, and get started.

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