Just as corn production gains popularity with western farmers, this year’s delayed spring seeding season left some varieties without enough heat units to reach maturity. But one equipment manufacturer, U.S.-based Schlagel Manufacturing, believes their Till-N-Plant, Series Two, strip-tilling implement might have helped prevent that by effectively extending the growing season.
“One of the advantages of strip till is you create a black spot that will warm up quicker in the spring,” said Dave Zimmerer, Schlagel’s sales manager, during a field demonstration of the Till-N-Plant in September near Liberty, Saskatchewan. “Plus when you leave a spot that’s bare (not worked), when you get moisture it goes from where you’re not planting the crop into where you are.”
That migration of moisture to the plant rows occurs because the Till-N-Plant is also equipped with a deep ripper shank in each row to break up compaction. It creates a zone of less-dense soil that moisture from rain or snow melt can more easily infiltrate, compared to what exists in the unworked areas between the rows.
“So you can save from eight to 10 inches of moisture a year that you’d normally lose,” he added. “The water infiltration rate of the soil increases dramatically with strip till, because it gives the water a place to go in. The big advantage here is where you are moisture challenged strip till can make the difference between a crop and no crop.”
Incorporating de-compaction capabilities into the Till-N-Plant minimizes the number of passes that might be required over the field, leaving strips of bare, lose soil that is ready for planting in the spring.
“When you’re doing strip till, you want to go over it once and be done,” he said. “You can break up compaction with it, because you can go 17 inches deep. We also put those wavy coulters on there to help break up the clods. If you just use a ripper and do something else you put that compaction layer back in (with another field pass). We don’t want to drive where our strips are. The big coulter in the front cuts the residue. The spiders on there move the residue. We want to create a spot that’s from eight to 12 inches wide where there’s no trash.”
Zimmerer explained that the Till-N-Plant can also be used to band fertilizer during the field pass at any depth below the seed row. “You can till from four to 17 inches deep,” he said. “At the same time, we’re going to put fertilizer directly below where we’re planting. You can use liquid, dry, anhydrous or any two of the three at the same time. You’re in control of how deep you want that fertilizer to go.
For producers choosing to use twin-row planters, the strips left by the Schlagel implement are wide enough to accomodate that as well. “This is one of the few strip till machines that tills a spot wide enough, and deep enough, to support the twin row,” he added. “We can go down to 20-inch row (spacings) and up to 24 rows. We can tailor machines to meet farmers needs.”
Pulling one of these implements will require some serious horsepower, though. “Because there is such a wide range of soils (and needed working depths), it’s going to vary from 15 clear up to 30 horsepower per row,” said Zimmerer.