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Third Generation of Strip-Till Units

There’s history behind the shiny light-green 24-row Orthman 1tRIPr strip-tillage and precision nutrient placement system that trails Mike Shuter’s tractor.

Back in 2003, Shuter was one of the first customers for a new 24-row Blu-Jet strip-till system from Nebraska’s Thurston Manufacturing. In 2008, he upgraded to the Yetter Manufacturing 2967-082 frame-mounted residue managers. Last fall, he switched to the newest Orthman system. “They just keep getting better,” says Shuter from his home at Frankton, Indiana, 40 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

Shuter, now with sons Brian and Patrick, plants around 2,000 acres of corn and 1,000 acres of soybeans. The farm is mostly a dark, silty clay-loam soil on a gently rolling landscape. Corn yields run at 185 to as much as 225 bushels; beans usually give him 60-bushel yields.

Shuter plants back-to-back dryland corn on 30-inch rows followed by beans on 15-inch rows. He also uses cover crops on all of their land. The corn, ahead of soybeans, is seeded to cereal rye; the soybeans, ahead of corn, are seeded to a combination of oats, crimson clover, radish, and oats. Corn ahead of corn is seeded to annual ryegrass, crimson clover, and radishes.

Time for an update
When it was time to update his system in 2013, Shuter selected the Nebraska-built 1tRIPr for the row unit, a customized Stinger toolbar frame built by Misenhelder Welding in Ithaca, Michigan, and a three-compartment fertilizer air tank built by a third company, Salford Manufacturing in Salford, Ontario.

The Stinger toolbar is known for a heavy telescoping tongue configuration that allows units to have a shorter transport length.

According to Orthman, the 1tRIPr prepares more seedbeds around the world than any other brand of strip-till machine. It combines multiple operations in a single pass to conserve moisture, soil, and time.

Why this system?
Shuter selected the 1tRIPr for two main reasons. First, Orthman split-row units are independently controlled with parallel linkage. A front coulter sets the depth. At least one other manufacturer has parallel linkage for strip-till, but Shuter believes the Orthman unit is built a little heavier and may hold up better.

Second, as opposed to shanks, the 1tRIPr has fluted coulters that blend multiple nutrients into the furrow at variable depths, instead of dropping it all in one band at the bottom. Then, it closes the furrow with a narrower set of ripple coulters that leave a root zone with optimal conditioning.

Shuter also likes the rolling basket option at the back of the unit to firm the cleared 6-inch strips behind the coulters. “There’s a rolling basket – either a straight-bar or a curved-bar basket – depending on whether we use it in the spring or fall,” says Shuter.

The system is adapted for working in corn and soybean residue as well as in standing cover crops. In Shuter’s case, most of his strip-till work is done in the fall. The family had about 600 acres to finish in early 2014.

“This system doesn’t lend itself to very wet conditions, but it runs in the conditions that we need to be running in,” he says.

The whole strip-till operation went a little faster in 2013. With the same horsepower on 24 rows, Shuter was able to work at 7 mph as opposed to about 6 mph.

Shuter also was pleased with the Salford variable-rate, triple-tank air cart in his system.

“We’re managing, potash, phosphates, and micronutrients all separately,” he says. “The micronutrients are at a straight rate; the potash and phosphate are on variable rates. We’re about as efficient as we can get with our fertilizer.”

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