Two north-central Iowa men put their heads together and created an opportunity for farmers interested in trying strip-till on their farms. Iowa Learning Farm Cooperator Dave Nelson, owner of Brokaw Supply Company, and Doug Seltz, a Webster County Soil and Water District commissioner, conceived a way for area producers to get their toes wet in the strip-tilling world without taking the full plunge. They’re calling it Operation Strip-Till.

Operation Strip-Till is the coordination of a leased tractor, strip-till machine and two equipment operators. The strip-till machine will match up with either 12- or 16-row planter sizes, will be equipped for fall application of anhydrous and dry fertilizer and will use GPS auto-steer so rows will be straight for spring 2009 planting. For a fee (to cover equipment rental only), farmers can have a portion of their acres strip-tilled.

A seminar was held on March 17 at the Webster County Fairgrounds, Fort Dodge, IA, to introduce farmers to this opportunity. More than 75 attended the event hosted by Brokaw Supply and Webster County NRCS, and sponsored by the Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and the Iowa Learning Farm.

John Holmes, ISU Extension field agronomist, talked about the advantages of strip-tilling which include reduced soil erosion and water run-off, fuel and time savings resulting from fewer field passes and maintaining top-end yield potential. Mark Hanna, ISU Extension agricultural engineer, gave pointers on how strip-till equipment works within the soil profile along with proper fertilizer placement.

Kevin Kimberley, an independent consultant and farmer, presented his dos and don’ts for strip-tilling. Kimberley is an industry-recognized expert on the subject and travels around the country helping farmers troubleshoot their in-field problems. Wrapping up the day, a three-farmer panel of area strip-tillers shared their experiences and answered questions about strip-tillage from the group.

“It was so exciting to see the great turnout and interest that we had for this meeting,” says Nelson. “Everyone reads about strip-till and recognizes the many advantages it would bring to their farm. But strip-till isn’t just something you hook on and go to the field with. It brings many new concepts and levels of management that people are scared to try on their own. With Operation Strip-Till we are all going to learn together. By recruiting local experts who have strip-tilled for many years, we can implement their successes and knowledge right from the start.”

Nelson says that they received more than 1,900 committed acres by the end of the meeting. Webster County producers interested in trying out the system can call Nelson at 800-362-1640.

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