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Souped Up Strip-Till (2008 Bonus)

13:58PM Jul 14, 2008


It's the best of strip-till and variable-rate nitrogen all in one. Orthman Manufacturing's 1tRIPr preplant tillage tool combines strip-till soil management, precision nutrient placement and seedbed preparation in a single field pass. 

The new strip-till rig offers farmers a chance for savings and profit by combining tillage with targeted fertilizer placement thanks to the Agri-Inject micro-tube system.

"Strip-till is not a new tillage method, but growers are realizing now more than ever it's a concept that makes a lot of economic sense," says Arnold Page with Agri-Inject. "The intense, high-input agriculture of today forces growers to critically think about how they can maximize the amount of production they can get out of their land."

At first glance, the new Orthman strip-till implement looks familiar. A solid precision tillage shank shatters root zone compaction. On the soil surface, adjustable wavy coulters lift and pinch, minimizing the incorporation of residue into the till zone and decreasing soil variability while firming the seedbed.

A closer look shows a GPS-guided implement steering system and a unique method for placing liquid fertilizer at two precise depths—which maximize seed development from germination through maturity. The micro-tube system pumps a stream of liquid through a network of polypropylene tubes.

From the tractor cab, the driver controls the sensor/control unit and flow pump to regulate liquid flow. Controlled flow allows precise adjustment for consistent results depending on the soil profile and other factors.

Components of the in-furrow application system include a variable-rate (VRT) controller in the cab, a GPS speed sensor attached outside the cab, a wire that connects the sensor to the flow meter, a pump, flow dividers and flexible polypropylene micro tubing.
Mike Petersen, an agronomist with Orthman, says the company's research shows positive results for the new implement. "With one tillage pass prior to planting, we're preparing and fertilizing a seedbed for the plant to take off fast and finish strong," Petersen says. 

Field trials conducted at Orthman's Research Farm in Lexington, Neb., compared conventional-till plots with broadcast dry fertilizer (55 lb. nitrogen, 52 lb. phosphorus, 12 lb. potassium) to strip-till plots with equivalent banded liquid products applied at a 4" and a 9.5" depth.  The average yield of the strip-till plots was 179 bu. per acre, and the conventional-till plots yielded an average of 154 bu. per acre. The yield boost is in addition to input savings.

The 1tRIPr takes one pass to prepare the seedbed and fertilize versus conventional till's multiple passes to chisel, disk, smooth and fertilize. Considering savings in fuel and fertilizer, researchers estimate strip-till costs $18 per acre, while conventional till can cost up to $45 per acre even before planting.

Much of the yield advantage from this system comes from precise placement of fertilizer directly below the seed. Plant roots don't have to search for nutrients, resulting in better root zone development. Since the fertilizer is close to the roots, farmers are able to cut the amount of product used.

The retail price for an Orthman 1tRIPr is $3,175 per row unit ($25,400 for an 8-row machine). The cost for a complete two-level Agri-Inject system starts at $4,300. For more on Orthman equipment, visit or call (970) 848-5336. 

You can e-mail Wayne Wenzel at