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Thursday 8 December 2016

Swapping the plough for strip tillage

Sales of strip till drills have picked up in the last five years

Derek Casey

Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30

Noel Furlong's drill of choice is a 3m Claydon. The drill requires 150hp out front and is priced at €52,000 plus VAT.
Noel Furlong's drill of choice is a 3m Claydon. The drill requires 150hp out front and is priced at €52,000 plus VAT.
Noel Furlong

Plough-based tillage systems still dominate in Ireland, but in recent years strip tillage has attracted a steady trickle of growers.

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Farmers are keen to assess the merits of strip tillage in terms of yield and labour costs over conventional tillage systems, and the concept is the subject of ongoing Teagasc research.

Trade sources tell me that in the past five years sales of strip till drills in Ireland have been steadily increasing.

However, there are some big challenges posed to those who want to adopt a strip tillage system.

As in min-till, there needs to be a high degree of crop management with the strip-till technique.

While increased sowing speeds and lower establishment costs are definite advantages, attempting a strip tillage system in land with pre-existing poor drainage and the curse of sterile brome are two examples of potential banana skins.

Case Study

Noel Furlong, Stradbally, Co Laois

 

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The pros and cons of strip tillage

Pros

There is dramatic reduction in establishment costs through a reduction in the amount of machinery capital required.

Reduced fuel consumption and labour requirements.

Increased work rates.

Reduced number of passes, so reducing overall compaction.

Cons

Bad rotation will lead to trouble with weeds

Pests can be a problem, with slightly elevated slug pressure

Closer attention to detail in crop management

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