Good Economics And Environment Protection

Several types of machines are in use to till small strips for planting rather than the entire field and initial studies show they can help control nutrient lose while maintaining high yields. (Photo by Simon Crouch)

First-year results from a strip till program designed to protect the environment have been so successful some of the participants are predicting it will solve some future concerns about phosphorus and other nutrients getting into lakes.

They’ve been working with special cultivators that till eight-inch wide strips leaving spaces between the planting strips untouched to control run-off.

Peter Johnson, an agronomist working on the experiments says only one year’s results are available but those results show no statistical yield loss.

“From an economic standpoint we think this has some legs as well, but the real focus is that we have to keep the phosphorus out of the lakes and we think this might be one of the better ways to do this,” he says. “It costs more money to strip till than it does to moldboard plough, but I don’t have to cultivate, I don’t have to spread fertilizer, I’ve really reduced my trips so economically I think it is a win.”

He says the fear going into the first year of the experiment was that yields would be hurt, but they are within two percent of other tillage methods so statistically there is no real difference.