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Fluid Journal : Fluid Journal 2005-2007
Fall 2005 Strip Till: An Attractive Alternative to No-Till? Dr. W. B. Gordon and R. E. Lamond Summary: Even though grain yields were low in the hot and dry 2003 growing season, strip-till improved early-season growth and nutrient uptake. Strip-till shortened the time from emergence to mid-silk by 7 days and also reduced grain moisture content at harvest. Strip-till plots yielded 15 bu/A more than no-till plots. Yields in the 2004 growing season were very good. Strip-till increased yields by 16 bu/A over no-till corn. Soil temperature was consistently warmer in strip-till than in no-till in both 2003 and 2004. In Kansas corn studies, strip-till plots yielded 16 bu/A mor ethan no-till plots. Fluid Journal 1 P roduction systems that limit tillage are being used by an increasing number of producers in the central Great Plains because of several inherent advantages. These include reduction of soil erosion losses, increased soil water-use efficiency, and improved soil quality. However, early- season plant growth can be poorer in reduced-till systems than in conventional systems. The large amount of surface residue present in a no-till system can reduce seed zone temperatures. Lower than optimum soil temperature can reduce the rate of root growth and nutrient uptake by plants. Soils can also be wetter in the early spring with no-till systems. Wet soils can delay planting. Early-season planting is done in order for silking to occur when temperature and rainfall are more favorable. Although early-season plant growth and nutrient uptake can be poorer in no-till systems than conventional-till, strip-till may provide an environment that preserves the soil and nutrient-saving advantages of no- till while establishing a seedbed that is similar to conventional-till. Field studies were conducted in 2003 and 2004 at Belleville, Kansas, to compare the effectiveness of strip-till to no-till and assess the effects of fall versus spring or split applications of NPKS fertilizers on growth, nutrient uptake, and corn yield. 2003 Due to a very dry growing season in 2003, grain yields were very low and response to applied N was variable. Early-season growth. Strip-till improved early-season growth, nutrient uptake, and grain yield of corn compared to no-till. The early season growth advantage seen in the strip-till plots carried over all the way to harvest. Mid-silk. When averaged over fertility treatment, strip-till plots reached mid-silk 7 days earlier than no-till plots. Grain moisture in the strip-till plots was 2.8 percent lower than in no-till plots. Yield. In this very dry year, yield advantage of strip-till over no-till may have been the result of increased rate of development in the strip-till system. Pollination. The corn plants reached the critical pollination period sooner in the strip-till plants while some stored soil water was still available. The soil water reserve was depleted one week later when the plants in the no-till plots reached mid-silk. Figure 1. Number of days from emergence to mid-silk and corn yield, averaged over fertility treatments, Belleville, 2004. Figure 2. Soil temperature at planting depth, Belleville, 2004.
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