A conservation farming technique, strip tillage is a low disturbance, targeted tillage practice where only a narrow band of soil is cultivated to produce the perfect tilth for quick and even crop establishment. The area between the tilled strips is left undisturbed, promoting good soil health and fertility which subsequently contributes towards better yielding crops. As such, strip tillage offers farmers the best of both worlds: the advantages of the plough and a moist, friable, well-draining seedbed in the way of a tilled strip, and the conservation appeal of zero tillage. Some striptill drills also have the capability of fertiliser placement below the seed to speed up their development.
As a single pass system, the technique can significantly reduce farm traffic and alleviate compaction. In addition, there are financial gains as fewer passes entail lower fuel and labour costs. Equipment and capital investment requirements are also notably lower as only one piece of machinery is required to carry out multiple operations.
Undisturbed inter-row encourages soil organism activity, which in turn contributes towards enhanced soil structure and fertility to the benefit of a healthier crop.
One of the characteristics that truly sets strip tillage apart from other establishment methods is the practice of retaining stubble and previous crop residue on the surface. Surface straw conserves moisture, protects the soil from erosion and, most importantly, supplies organic matter for the soil’s inhabitants to recycle into nutrients.