On October 22 Marvin Stapleton of John Deere, Deerhaven in Belleville organized a pop up farm demo of strip tilling on John Pulver’s farm on Goodrich Road in Codrington. The demo included a strip tiller from Kuhn, another from Unverferth and John’s own homemade strip tiller.
Strip tilling is the process of tearing up the strips of land that are being planted into, rather than the whole field. The idea is to gain time in the spring by warming the land and providing good conditions to plant into. A coulter cuts through land residue, row cleaners clear away the residue and then a small berm is created on each strip. The berm is created in different ways depending on the tiller used. Kuhn’s tiller used angled coulters to push the land into a berm. Unverferth’s used a crowfeet attachment to create the berm. John’s homemade unit used speed to create the berm. The raised berm gives more area for the sun to warm. A couple of degrees warmer in the strip means planting earlier and gaining heat units. Strip tilling also allows for an undisturbed cover crop to be incorporated into the field to help with soil heath and reduced erosion.
All the units had height adjustment capabilities. In the fall, the strip could be cut deeper, while in the spring, it could be more shallow. A fertilizer attachment could be utilized to reduce an extra pass in the field.
Spectators brought up concerns of stones being pulled up with the various strip tillers. In this area stones are a given, but machine adjustments can be made to help with the problem. John has had success on his farm by changing the pitch of the shank and pulling up less stones
John Pulver has been experimenting with strip tilling for the last 10 years. He built and modified his own strip tilling equipment. While John prefers to strip till in the spring, he used the fall opportunity to have different machines prepare the ground for corn planting this coming spring. He will plant corn into the three different trial areas and take it to yield next fall. He would like to have some solid data, not only for his own farm, but for other Ontario farmers as well. John pointed out that field conditions, tractor speed and access to horsepower would be the determining factors in what unit would serve best. John invites others to come back in April and look at the strips to decide if this is something to try for themselves.
Next fall, after harvest, John will share his data from the various strip tilled plots. The results will help John and others determine if strip tilling is a benefit to their process.