The Sharp Edge: Twin-row, multi-hybrid strip till with Mike Strang


Some farmers practice strip till in their cornfields, some plant corn in twin rows, while others plant multiple hybrids. Then there’s Mike Strang — he does it all in the same field and even adds cover crops to the management mix.

On this episode of The Sharp Edge, Strang, who farms with his family near Exeter, Ont., and Maizex agronomist Greg Stewart, break down this approach to tillage, planting, soil health, and higher yields. “There’s a lot going on here and it’s not necessarily easy, but Mike is persistent at looking at the big picture,” says Stewart.

In the video, Strang shares his strip till strategy, which includes fall and spring strips using a SoilWarrior unit. When it comes to fertility, some potash goes down in the fall and N-P-K at 80-40-30 is placed in the strip in the spring. Extra fertility is then planter-applied using an on-board liquid system.

Strang is a big fan of twin rows. All corn is planted in twin rows as well as edible beans and often, soybeans. He notes that twin-row corn has delivered a seven bu/ac yield advantage compared to more conventional systems across the family’s farming operation. (Story continues after the video.)

In recent years, Strang has planted different hybrids side-by-side in each twin row. In 2021, he switched it up — planting the same hybrid side-by-side in the twin row, and then switching to the second hybrid for the neighbouring twin row. The hybrids then alternate across the field. With the first hybrid having a taller, upright architecture and the second having a more pendulum leaf, Strang feels he can reduce competition, capture more sunlight, and make more yield.

Strang admits that marrying cover crops to a multi-hybrid strip till system is a work in progress but he believes the combination will enhance soil health and reduce soil erosion. He also believes multiple hybrids in a field reduce risk and his experience so far indicates he can squeeze more yield out of his corn plants.

Click here for more episodes of The Sharp Edge.

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