"It lets us strip-till without the expense of a separate machine," says Jeff Martin, Mt. Pulaski, Ill., who uses his 16-row Deere 7200 MaxEmerge planter to strip till into corn and soybean residue during the fall. Jeff farms with his son Doug and brother Tom.
The planter is equipped with Yetter Row Manager row cleaners, which consist of pairs of intersecting wheels. To convert the planter to strip till, the Martins simply remove the seed boxes and disc openers and also lift the closing wheels up out of the way, locking them in place. The row cleaners shave residue off the soil and throw it out of the row zone, leaving a cleanly tilled, 9-in. wide strip.
"It makes a nice, clean seedbed that dries out and warms up nicely when we plant into it the following spring," says Jeff. "We can buzz through fields at 8 to 9 mph and clear rows on up to 300 acres per day. We use our Deere 4440 2-WD tractor to pull it.
"Using a planter to strip-till is such a simple idea that a lot of people don't think it could work, but it does. We had been using a modified Deere 7000 planter toolbar as a strip-till rig to go with our 12-row planter, but when we traded up to a 16-row planter we needed to do something different. Many farmers apply anhydrous ammonia as they strip till during the fall, but we didn't want to do that because much of our soil is so wet that a lot of nitrogen would be lost. We've also used the planter to strip-till on sloping ground during the spring, just ahead of planting."
Jeff says you can experiment with this system on a few acres without spending any money. "Just raise the planter high enough that the disc openers skim the soil, which will allow the row cleaners to shave off residue."