Agronomy

What is the Strip-till?

literally: Strip = line, Till = Work of the soil

Strip-Till: in-line work

Strip-tilling, it’s localizing the work of the soil on the future line of sowing without affecting the inter-rank. By creating a bed of seed comparable to that of a conventional work on the row while leaving on-surface residues between rows, we keep at the most the advantages of no-till drill and we secure the setting-up of the cultivation.

This localized work of the soil allows you to improve your soil capital, and contributes to the reduction of your production costs (less time, less fuel).

All the in-line cultures can be sowed with one passage of strip-till:

  • Corn, sunflower, soya, sorghum
  • Colza
  • Sugar beets

The strip-till is a simple technique, which only requires some common sense and the respect of basic principles in order to obtain all the benefits. Our own experience and that of our users allow us to expose hereby the main lines.

Why make the swich to Strip-till ?

Economy

The working speed varies from 6 till 12km / hour.

For a 4.50m width, it is potentially 35ha per day.

A passage of strip-till consumes 6 to 10L of GNR / ha.

Our savings simulator, will allow you to verify the important savings which is possible to make when working with strip-till.

Agronomy

The first objective of the strip-till and no-till is to increase the rate of organic matter (OM) of the soil. The rate of organic matter of a soil is the base of a productive soil because it favors the development of the fauna necessary for its mineralization and for the formation of the clay-humus complex, i.e. elements that feed the plants. On the other hand covering the soil with residues limits the erosion. The strip-till permit to leave the soil less exposed to the bad weather thanks to the cover of the inter-row, while leaving a small clear strip which will warm itself more quickly in spring to allow an early sowing and a excellent germination quality.

The strip-till allows to keep the agronomic advantages of no-till, with the safety of the usual work on the row.

Better water flow

The localized work of the soil participates into building a “vertical”, ideal structure of the soil for air and water flow.

  • In the strip, roots will dive quickly without in-depth obstacle, before exploring the inter-row. Thanks to the localized shallow cultivation, the water comming from irrigation or rain, as well as fertilizing elements are going to flow directly in the strip where are the roots.
  • Between rows the structure created by the roots of the vegetation cover and the action of earthworms remains intact. The positive effects of the inter-row is one of the most notable effects for the autumn harvests: corns grain and sugar beet are harvested without ruts! The soil is not degraded for the following cultivation which can be implanted with a minimum amont of soil work. The strip-till guarantees an economic siting of the cultivation of the year but also for the next crop to be planted!

Localization of fertilizer: the right dose, at the right place, at the right time.

Thanks to a program of fertilization adapted and localized just below the row, the use of the strip-till assures a return on investment for all fertilizer expenses: fewer loss, and increasing efficiency. It becomes possible to reduce the doses: savings of 30 % were noticed after several years of practice. This is clearly in the interests of environmental protection, but also of our wallet.

When we reduce the work of the soil, the organic matter remains on-surface, its mineralization is thus made later. In corn, it is necessary to anticipate the contribution of nitrogen (earlier than the traditional ” 6-8 leaves “) to ensure continued feeding. All or part of this contribution can be thus localized with the strip-till. The fertilizer placed under the straw, in a fresh zone, will be always accessible to the plant as she needs it the most.

The localized work of the strip-till, and the cover of the soil by residues allow the preservation of the water. The fertilizing elements are thus always in the soil solution and roots have a longer access to the water during period of drought, so it improves the efficiency of fertilizers.

How to begin the strip-till ?

It is necessary to strip-till as we were practising the plowing: in autumn on clayey soils, and in spring for sandy soils or soil with less than15 % of clay.

In autumn as in spring the soil has to be as dried as possible. A passage made in good conditions already guarantees half of the success.

The work of the soil being made in a single passage, it is necessary to take time to adjust well the machine to obtain the best possible work and to prepare optimal conditions of sowing and crop emergence.

Strip-till of spring

Direct sowing in the spring can turn out complicated because of weather conditions and because of variable level of dried soil. Strip-till turns out to be a good compromise between conventional and direct sowing for the preparations after the winter.

The strip-till of spring is adapted to muddy or sandy soils. The passage can be made two weeks earlier or just a few days before the sowing, when the soil is as dry as possible.

The working depth depends on how deep the soil has been dried. It is for example preferable to work in 15cm and to obtain a profile well cracked by the tooth, rather than planning 25cm and to risk to smooth the bottom of the profile. A smoothing is comparable to a sole of plowing, it will prevent roots from explorating the soil.

If the preparation is unrefined or if the conditions are dry you can run before or after the sowing. The rolling post-sowing is effective in the fight against slugs and improves the efficiency of weedkiller root system.

Strip-till of autumn

Direct sowing in the spring can turn out complicated because of weather conditions and because of variable level of dried soil. Strip-till turns out to be a good compromise between conventional and direct sowing for the preparations after the winter.
The strip-till of spring is adapted to muddy or sandy soils. The passage can be made two weeks earlier or just a few days before the sowing, when the soil is as dry as possible.
The working depth depends on how deep the soil has been dried. It is for example preferable to work in 15cm and to obtain a profile well cracked by the tooth, rather than planning 25cm and to risk to smooth the bottom of the profile. A smoothing is comparable to a sole of plowing, it will prevent roots from explorating the soil.
If the preparation is unrefined or if the conditions are dry you can run before or after the sowing. The rolling post-sowing is effective in the fight against slugs and improves the efficiency of weedkiller root system.

Spring resumption 

Following the evolution of the srip during the winter and according to the equipment of sowing available on the farm, he can be useful to repeat very slightly the strip at the end of winter, as we would do on a classic preparation. If the sowing is made with a light seed drill or with ploughshares, the resumption is essential. The cultivations which are sensitive to the quality of sowing as the sugar beet or the sunflower value very well a superficial resumption which warms the ground and creates fine earth.

To that end, Stripcat can be equipped in two ways:

  • straight or curved vibrating teeth: very effective to level the strip in its length. An equipment approved by a large majority of our users, economic, very similar to what is practiced in classic preparation.
  • embossed disks: allow a high working speed.

The spring resumption can also be made with the Fertill equipped with Lilliston wheels.

Strip-till after corn grain

Depending on weather conditions strip-tilling after corn grain can be a challenge. There are some tricks to facilitate it:

  • Choose premature varieties in order to spread the working window until autumn. Harvest your corn on October 10th rather than on November 10th guarantees more workdays in good conditions (in term of humidity of the soil but also of compaction). It is not possible to strip-till a plastic soil, then if you have very clayey lands you must consider premature varieties, and maybe use the strip-till only in rotation behind a cereal. That will allow you to work in dry conditions.
  • Do not crush or re-crush residues. Stripcat evolves very well in big straw volumes. But the mixture of fine residues and very wet ground forms a kind of cob in which it is difficult to work. Not crushing the corns straw avoids creating a dense mater on the ground and allows the earth to dry (sticks and leaves remain suspended). These conditions are preferable for an optimal work with the strip-till.
  • Working with the same row spacing as the previous corn. Should the opposite occur (preparation for sunflower at 60cm for example) certain elements of the Stripcat will facing an older row of corn. So effective they are, trash wheels won’t be able to move away the stalk of corn and the work will be affected. If you have to strip-till with different row spacing, then working across the rows of corn is the most adapted solution.
  • Working close to the row. The corn has a dense root system in the first 20 centimeters, what creates a fine ground. To work against the former corn row allows to take advantage of this structure, what produces a mound of more refined and regular earth. This practice is all the more interesting if the ground is plastic and combine harvester’s passages are scared.

Strip-till and plant cover

The strip-till is the best way to manage a plant cover in clay soil. He becomes possible to couple plant cover and early sowing by clearing in the autumn a slightly earthed up strip of land which will warm itself faster in the spring.

Work early

As soon as the plant cover is implanted and raised, there is no risk of anticipating the passage of the strip-till. It is necessary to strip-till as soon as the plant cover is raised, to take advantage of dry conditions of the summer end (ideally between the sowing of colza and the first sowing of cereal). The roots of the plant cover are then going to colonize the strip and to prevent massively the resumption. Waiting for the end of the cereal sowing, or the end of mandatory two months of plant cover is too random.

Colzas

During these last 4-5 years, the setting-up of a colza with strip-till was compared with many other methods and turns out to be the most adapted. The strip-till allows in a single passage to manage the straw, to crack the ground and eventually to place a fertilization. Sewing on a clean and loosened strip, is the insurance of a successful colza. The localized fertilization, or the implementation of plants partners are other interesting but not essential techniques in the success when we begin with strip-till.

Straw management

When moving aside the straw on the inter-row, the strip-till creates a clean strip where a monoseeds drill can place precisely rape seeds, without risking to pinch the straw in the furrow.

The ploughing before the passage of the strip-till is disadvised because it creates a mixture earth – straw which prevents an effective work of the trash wheels. These will tend to push the mixture and to dig a lower strip than the inter-row, more favorable to the slugs than to the sowing of colza. The ploughing also favors the levying of the regrowths of cereal and the adventitious ones as the geranium, which complicate the weeding. On the other hand, the incorporation of the straw engenders a “hunger of nitrogen” harmful to the autumnal development of the colza, phenomenon absent with the strip-till where residues stay on the surface.

Packing the strip

Packing the strip is an important aspect when one strip-till for the colza. On a good well packed strip the seed drill takes advantage of a firm and refine surface to place the seed which will benefit from ascents by capillarity.

Fissuring

According to the CETIOM, the implanting and the regularity are key factors of the success in colza. The plant has to develop a pivot before winter of at least 15cm and present less than 10 % of angled or forked feet to reach its full potential.

These objectives are reachable with strip-till. The sowing on a strip of soil cracked in depth guarantees the formation of a solid pivot for every plant and a very good homogeneity within the plot of land.

 

Colza in clay soils

Once again, it is necessary to get closer of what you already practise. If your soil needs to evolve with the climate, and if you usually work lands just after the harvest, then do it the same way with the strip-till. As with a preparation in height, the strips of strip-till will take advantage of the rain/dry alternation, what will create the fine earth you need to sow your colza.

Some of our users make the second superficial passage before sowing. If it can sometimes appear a “luxe” it is a good way to learn the technique in very clayey lands.

 

Localized fertilization

In order to boost the autumnal growth of the colza, we can take advantage of the passage of the strip-till or the seed drill to localize a nitrate or phosphor fertilizer. We notice that the localized Phosphor improves the development of the root system (one of the keys of the yield in colza), and that this vigour allows the colza to face the attacks of devastating (altises, slugs). The localized dose of fertilizer is moderated, for example 50 to 70kg of 18-46 are enough.

The later is  the sowing, the more interesting is the localized fertilization, because the conditions are less favorable to the growth of the colza and the pressure of the devastating is more important.

The localized fertilization of the colza is not systematically translated by an upper yield, but it is nevertheless the insurance of a strong cultivation capable of facing the attacks of devastating and climatic hazards

 

Plant partner

Associating colza with legumes is an interesting technique. We consider that Frost-resistant legumes associated with the colza can bring up to 40 units of nitrogen/ha.

With Strip-till, the easiest is also the most effective. It is better to sow plants partners in the line where the colza will be sowed, it is there that the effect on the root system of the colza is the most beneficial. Legumes “force” the colza to dive more in-depth, an advantage for the formation of beautiful pivots.

Sugar Beet

The strip-till is quite indicated for the sugar beet because he allows to work deeply under the row, without moving all the profile, what allows to keep some sustain for the harvest. The beet is a culture which demands a precise placement of in-depth seed. Consequently the preparation of the strip-till in spring has to be very precise possible. The strip-till being a non animated tool, a result comparable to that of a rotating harrow ( floury earth) is not possible. However we can obtain a correct preparation by following some simple rules:

  • First Work in autumn (September), to take advantage of dry conditions;
  • Resume the band superficially by means of teeth or by means of disks in the spring
  • Sow with a seed drill with disks. Seed drills with disks adapt better to a clump preparation (soil ball) and have more pressure by element.
  • Sow on a preparation which has whiten.

We can also roll the preparation with a croskill or croskilettes.

Strip-till in catch crop cultivation (after feed)

A harvest of ryegrass or of meslin implies a high traffic of equipment on the plot of land and a ground that is often dry. The strip-till is quite indicated in this case: it is going to allow a localized loosening, the conservation of a maximum of humidity in the soil and the localization of in-depth fertilizer, in a still fresh zone where the corn will have an easy access. The localization also allows to by-pass the root sytem mattress of surface which “would” “consume” some nitrogen to decompose.

Combine Strip-till and sowing, or not

The good conditions of strip-till and those of sowing often correspond to different periods of intervention. In clay soil, before a spring sowing or a sowing of colza, the passage of the strip-till is done well before the sowing to let the soil evolve. It is not thus possible to combine. In spring, combining work of the ground and sowing in clay soils is going to provoke a smoothing and to create a “trench” in which it would be impossible to sow correctly, which would favor slugs and would compromise the future development of the cultivation.

In muddy or sandy grounds, we often win to let “whiten” the earth before sowing. In conventional or in minimum tillage the idea would not come to us of sowing after a work which did not whiten, it is necessary to keep it in mind when doing strip-till. It is even more important when we sow beets. The purpose is to have a uniform levying and strong starts, that can be obtained only by sowing in warmed ground.

However, in very precise cases (very light, homogeneous lands, well warmed ground, water at arrangement), the combine work can be in sight: it makes a lot of “if”.

In corn grain, an irregular levying produced by an irregularity of soil or by a work done in difficults conditions, can be translated quickly by 10 to 20 quintals less … A passage of seed drill costs near 20-40 € the ha. With the current price of corn, it isn’t worth the money.

In combine strip-till/seed drill, the localized fertilization is more risky because of more important risks of burns. From a logistic point of view, to separate the operations allows to take some advance when the working conditions of the ground are good and do not penalize the speed of the work, for the strip-till as for the seed drill. Mechanically speaking, the optimal working speed of the strip-till (6 to 12km/hour) is not compatible with that of monoseeds drills (6km/hour for most of them).

Combined with the placement of the fertilization on the line of sowing, the passage of the strip-till replaces several passages of tools. According to the situations it is going to replace 2 to 3 passages. You should not rush and want everything to be made in a single stage: with the strip-till we already do “fast ». To make it “great” it is safer to separate the interventions.

However, you know your soil and your conditions. If you consider that for several reasons, the combined is the solution for you, Stripcat is combinable with any monoseed drill.

GPS guidance systems

” how to sow on strips? ” Here is a question which is often asked!

Simply put, if you use wide row spacing, from 60cm, and if your strip-till contains the same number of elements as your seed drill then the GPS(GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM) is not essential. Indeed, the well spaced out strips are easy “to aim at”, and it is even easier with an odd number of rows (with a row in the center of the tractor).

However it is interesting to have an auto-steering system on the tractor which strip-till, with a precision of 5 to 10cm, simply to work the most straight possible. The righteousness of strips will facilitate the guiding during the sowing even if this type of auto-steering system isn’t precise enough to guide the tractor which sows.

The more rectilinear the passages of strip-till are, the more easy it will be to seed again above.

The RTK GPS guide (precision of 2-3cm) becomes interesting when we cover large surfaces or when we want to deepen the technique (double passage, localization of fertilizer in vegetation, etc.). It is the most adapted precision to guid you when sowing, and it is the only signal offering a repeatable positioning. For example if you trace your strips in autumn, the repeatability of the signal will allow you to be at the exact same position in spring.

For tight row spacing as for the beet (45 or 50cm) a RTK guide turns out to be essential. The necessity of making often 2 passages of strip-till then to seed again exactly on the strip obliges you to be very precise and to be repeated, where you did your first passage at the previous autumn. Today 100 % of our users in sugar beet are equipped with auto-steering RTK.

If the auto-steer system RTK can seem expensive at first sight, it can allow you to decrease the amount of the investment in strip-till! Indeed thanks to the precision of the guiding systeme you can choose a strip-till with a number of rows different from your seed drill:

Strip-till 6 rows foldable
Strip-till 5 rows fixed + RTK
  • Stripcat 6 rows 20600€
  • Folding +4000€
  • Track makers + 1950€
  • = 26550€
  • Stripcat 5 rows fix 16950€
  • No folding
  • No track makers
  • + 1 guidance equipement  RTK : 15000€
  • =31950€

In conclusion, if in most of the cases the auto-sterring GPS is not compulsory to start with strip-till, it is a logical investment when we want to refine the technique, which will be valued in many other applications on the farm. In beets, where the spaces are relatively narrow (45 or 50cm) and where we run the strip-till twice, the RTK guiding system is almost essential for a reliable and precise work.

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