Spring is my favorite time of the year. It’s the promise of another crop, the smell of rain on the soil, and the Cubs on the radio. It’s also one of the most hectic times of the year.
We run two planters on our farm, a 16-row high-speed planter and a 24-row high speed planter and each planter requires a pickup to deliver seed out of our warehouse. We start our 16-row planter on soybeans while the 24-row plants our corn. This year we will likely start planting corn and soybeans on the same day.
We hope to have our entire crop planted in about seven days, and the high-speed planters are key for us to get that done. The other key for us to getting our crop in is our strip-till system.
In the fall after we harvest, we create the seedbed where we will plant in the spring. We use our strip-till machine to till an 8-inch wide by 6-inch deep strip of soil and apply fertilizer into the tilled area. The whole rest of the field is left untouched.
With this system we try to accomplish a few things. First, we want to create the best place to plant that we can. We want a warm, dry, smooth, and residue free area where our seeds have the best chance to all come up on the same day. We also place our fertilizer right underneath where the plants will grow so that we can increase yields, reduce fertilizer use and reduce fertilizer runoff.
Strip tillage is a great compromise between conventional tillage and no-till, giving us the seedbed of conventional tillage along with economic and environmental benefits of no-till.
By leaving over two-thirds of the field untouched we also reduce erosion from wind and rain, as well as build the structure of the soil so that it supports equipment better and allows water to move through it better. We think it’s a great compromise between conventional tillage and no-till, giving us the seedbed of conventional tillage along with economic and environmental benefits of no-till.
Once the snow melts, we get to see how the strips overwinter. If they aren’t what we want we have the option to work them again lightly to freshen them up. This year the strips look absolutely beautiful so we won’t touch them until we plant.
When we plant, we line the planter up on the strip and the tractor then steers itself across the field keeping the planter centered on that 8-inch strip of soil we tilled back in the fall.
The field pictured will be corn again this year and 14 days after we plant, we get to see the little green corn plants come up between the gold of last year’s cornstalks. It’s one of my favorite views on the farm.
JOSH FAIVRE – SEED DEALER & GRAIN FARMER, DEKALB