Corn School: Strip tillage could mean being on a field one to two days sooner

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Strip till corn is helping Mark Brock build a winning management system for his Staffa, Ont., farm.

Brock started strip tilling back in 2015 with the objective of integrating manure from the farm’s chicken operation into a system that would help manage compaction, and further improve soil organic matter with the addition of cover crops.

On this edition of RealAgriculture’s Corn School, Brock tells Bernard Tobin that he doesn’t get caught up in how much his corn yields — his focus is net return per acre.  He explains how he uses a 6-row Orthman shank strip till unit to create nine-inch-wide berms in the fall after chicken manure is applied to fields. “Making strips is the first pass and last pass before planting and we’re seeing the same yields, says Brock. “We’re putting more money in our pockets because our expenses are going down.”

In the spring, corn is planted directly into the strip, but Brock has also added a 12-row Yetter strip freshener he can utilize in the spring, depending on the situation. (Story continues after the video.)

Strip till certainly paid dividends this spring for Brock as he and farmers across the province struggled to plant corn in cool, wet conditions. He saw an increase of three to four degrees C in strips this spring compared to untilled ground between the strips. He estimates the warmer and drier conditions created by the berm would allow him to plant one to two days earlier.

For Brock, his system really comes down to simplicity. He’s been asked if he will continue to push for less tillage and try more no-till corn, but that’s not in the cards. Brock believes strip till is right for his farm. It requires minimal field passes, helps manage manure and compaction, improves soil and gets corn in the ground as early as possible. That allows Brock to take advantage of higher-yielding corn genetics that continue to emerge from seed company product pipelines.

For more on Brock’s strip till work, check out his video blog on YouTube. You can follow him in the field and on the tractor all season long.

Click here for more Corn School episodes.

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