Beet 09: Strip tillage shows potential

First–year trials assessing the potential of strip tillage establishment for sugar beet suggested the technique could match yields from a plough-based system.

Strip tillage, originally developed in the US corn belt to counter diffuse pollution, cultivated about a third of the ground in strips about 20cm wide to a depth of 10-20cm, Nathan Morris of The Arable Group explained at Beet 09.

“Potentially there are savings of 50% on fuel and a 20% increase in work-rate, which can help with timeliness of cultivations.”

Other benefits were better prevention of soil erosion and enhanced in–field biodiversity, he suggested.

His trials are comparing strip tillage versus the plough at four different cultivation timings – early autumn, late autumn, early spring and late spring.

While ploughing gave much more consistent yields across the timings, there was no significant difference from the early spring timing.

New disc options were being examined to cultivate the soil more aggressively in the autumn, leaving it more cloddy in an attempt to avoid slumping, he said.

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