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Corn School: How does strip till impact your soil test?

By: Bernard Tobin

October 9, 2019

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One of the big benefits of strip tilling corn is the ability to place fertilizer directly into the berm or strip for greater nutrient efficiency.

But as growers rotate out of strip-tilled corn, how can they assess the overall fertility of a field where nutrient placement was concentrated in specific areas? On this edition of RealAgriculture’s Corn School, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) corn lead Ben Rosser offers soil testing tips growers can use to get the best soil nutrient reading on those strip-tilled fields.

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Rosser notes that some strip tillers will always keep the strip in the same location and build P and K over time, while others will move the berm 10 inches every corn year to spread fertility across the field. He adds that a 2018 strip till study conducted by OMAFRA soil fertility specialist Jake Munroe showed significant differences in fertility levels in the strip and between the rows. The study showed soil test values averaged 58 P and 106 K in the strip, while the ground in between averaged 21 P and 83 K.

In the video, Rosser discusses Illinois research that looked at the best way to soil sample a field that is moving from strip till to a crop where fertilizer will be broadcast. In this scenario, research indicates that growers should extract one soil core from within the strip and mix it with two or three cores taken from between the corn rows for a representative sample of fertility across the field.

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Click here for more Corn School episodes.

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