Tips On Managing Crop Residue For Strip-Till Operations

April 02, 2021

ProTrakker Guidance Systems has provided some helpful tips for managing crop residue in strip-till farming.

Strip-till is a good farming practice that combines the benefits of conventional tillage with the advantages of no-till. When tended to properly, crop residue from strip tillage can add a lot of value to a farming operation. Not only can farmers save on inputs, but they can also protect their soil from significant erosion and lock in moisture for the crops. If you are considering strip-tillage, here are some tips to help you better manage the all-important crop residue in the field.

  1. Vertical Strip-Tillage Is An Easier Way To Manage Residue

    Overall, vertical tillage can be easier to manage than horizontal tillage. The more residue left standing translates to a smaller amount of residue that needs to be moved out of the way in the cropping zones during strip-till operations or when planting. Another benefit of vertical tillage is that it helps capture snowfall and increases soil moisture. Standing residue can lessen the damaging wind effects on crop emergence too.

  2. Make Sure Residue Is Distributed Evenly

    During harvest, ensure that the combine’s chopper or spreader attachment is set to distribute residue evenly across the header width. If the residue is scattered unevenly, it can lead to large soil temperature variability throughout the field and result in uneven crop emergence during spring. The availability of soil nutrients is also affected by plant material coverage.

  3. Have Uniformly Sized Crop Residue

    The uniform size of the residue helps the field and strip-till operations. It’s a delicate balancing act between having pieces of residue that are either too big or too small. Larger pieces of plant material take longer to decompose, which leads to a slower release of nutrients into the soil. Longer residue might not move through some tillage and planting equipment very easily.

    On the other side of the spectrum, smaller material is more prone to being pushed around by wind and rain. This issue can lead to poor residue distribution and coverage loss. The size of crop residue depends on how you set up your equipment during harvest. 

  4. Make Two Strip-Till Passes

    After harvest, make one pass in the fall to strip-till the zones to clear residue from the planned furrows. Over the winter, winds and moving snow will push residue and stalks back over the tilled areas. When spring rolls around, do another pass to clear out the zones again. By doing it twice, the tillage creates a good seedbed for the crops to get started.   

  5. Use An Implement Guidance System

    Unaided by technology, matching the strip and the planter is very challenging, leaving room for uncertainty. Adding implement guidance into the equation reduces that uncertainty. A ProTrakker Hydraulic Hitch eliminates implement inaccuracy, keeping the strips and planter in line for accurate placement while the areas with residue are left undisturbed.

For more information about ProTrakker Hydraulic Hitches and how they can help increase your bottom line, visit ProTrakker.com.