Soybean School: Planting twin rows in strip till

Strip tillage in corn is growing in popularity in Ontario, but we don’t often see the tillage strategy employed in soybeans.

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soybean School, AGRIS Co-operative agronomist Dale Cowan takes us to a strip-tilled field, which features twin row, 7.5-inch soybeans planted on 30-inch centres.

In the field, Cowan’s bother, Larry and Larry’s son, Chris, of Chimo Farms, have created an integrated strip till program where strip till corn is now followed by strip till soybeans.

Chris explains that he and his father have several goals they’re trying to achieve under this system, including eliminating trash between the rows, as well as a tillage pass. They’re also trying to save time and labour, reduce fuel cost, make their fertility program more effective, increasing overall net returns.

How do they do it? The 10-inch wide strips are created in the fall using a TerraForge strip till unit, which carries a mounted Montag fertilizer cart. “You’re only disturbing one-third of the soil, moving the trash to the side and also incorporating MAP and potash in the fall,” says Dale. “When you talk about fall placement of fertilizer, the best place for it is below ground – the chance or run-off in the fall is minimized and we get it down where the roots can find it for both the corn and the soybeans.”

Story continues after video.

The field was planted on May 11 with a 30-foot New Holland drill. In the video, Chris explains how he blocked rows on the drill to plant the twin rows in the strip.

“There are a lot of farmers examining strip till. It’s kind of the best of doing tillage and not doing tillage,” says Dale. “We know that straight no-till doesn’t always work in some of the heavy-textured fields. Here you have a worked band that is 10-inches wide and as deep as you want to go. You also have options to place fertilizer, move some trash to the side, and have a nice mellow seedbed in the spring.” He also notes that the high percentage of residue cover helps reduce erosion and surface run-off which protects water quality and improves nutrient placement.

“I think there’s a lot of things to look at beyond the planting and the strip till – it is a whole farming system. It’s an integration of a whole lot of different concepts,” says Dale.

We’ll revisit the field and provide a harvest update this fall. Click here for more Soybean School episodes.

 

Bernard Tobin

Bernard Tobin is Real Agriculture's Ontario Field Editor. AgBern was raised on a dairy farm near St. John's, Newfoundland. For the past two decades, he has specialized in agricultural communications. A Ryerson University journalism grad, he kicked off his career with a seven-year stint as Managing Editor and Field Editor for Farm and Country magazine. He has received six Canadian Farm Writers' Federation awards for journalism excellence. He's also worked for two of Canada's leading agricultural communications firms, providing public relations, branding and strategic marketing. Bern also works for Guelph-based Synthesis Agri-Food Network and talks the Real Dirt on Farming.

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