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Roto-Strip Tillage Solves Trash Problems
"With roto-strip tillage we're eliminating the slow seed start, lower yields and trash toxicity problems with zero tillage, plus reducing the number of trips and soil compaction you get with conventional tillage," reports Mike Columbus, energy specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Delhi, Ontario.
Roto-strip tillage involves rototilling a 12-in. wide, 3 to 4-in. deep strip as you plant, just in front of each planter row unit. Roto-stripping can be done in grain fields with the stubble left untouched, or in last year's cornfields by roto-stripping beside the old row.
Columbus' set-up for plowing, planting, and spraying in one pass features four pto-powered roto-tillers mounted on a toolbar and hooked up to the tractor 3-pt. A bridge hitch was put on the conventional 4-row (36 in. spacing) planter so it pulls right behind the tillers. This set-up allows easy unhooking of the planter when using the tillers as cultivators. Columbus added spray tanks and hoses to the tractor to preplant apply Dual herbicide. Nitrogen could be applied at the same time," he notes.
In 1984, roto-strip corn yielded 137 bu./acre while the test strip of conventionally tilled (plowed and secondary tillage) corn yielded 139 bu./ acre. Last year, the roto-strip corn yielded 169 bu./acre while the check plot yielded 165 bu. Columbus attributes the poorer yields in 1984 to heavy rainstorms part-way through the year.
Another advantage cited for roto-strip tilling as opposed to conventional tillage is that more trash is left on the soil to help reduce erosion, and to put more organic matter in the soil. In comparison to zero-tillage, Columbus notes that roto-strip tillage provides better seed; soil contact, more uniform plant growth, less trash in the seeding area and a slightly warmer seedbed. He feels that rotostrip tillage will work in most areas and soils.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mike Columbus, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, P.O. Box 186, Delhi, Ont. N4B 2W9 (ph 519 582-1950).

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1986 - Volume #10, Issue #3