Corn School: Fall vs. spring strip till — can you see the difference?

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Part of the attraction of strip till corn is the ability to cultivate strips in the fall and place fertilizer. It makes for less work in the spring when the field work window is compressed. Those fall strips in heavier soil also help warm the planting zone.

But what about fertility — how does corn respond to nutrients placed in fall-made strips versus strips cultivated in the spring? That’s a question Ben Rosser, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) corn lead, routinely gets from growers. To find some answers, Rosser is running trials this year comparing corn’s response to nutrients in strips made last fall (October) versus strips cultivated this spring (late May). In both strips, Rosser and his team applied the same moderate fertility rate — 60 lb of phosphorus and 60 lb of potassium.

On this episode of the RealAgriculture Corn School, we catch up with Rosser at the recent FarmSmart Expo at OMAFRA’s Elora, Ont. research station for an early look at the trial. As of mid-July, the spring strip till plots show a significant growth advantage over the fall plots. Whether that early advantage translates to yield will be determined at harvest. Stay tuned. We’ll update this report in the fall when yield results are available.

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