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Strip-Tilling Helps Boost Potato Yields To Record Levels

Joel McClure's record potato yields


Joel McClure, a Hugoton, Kan., strip-tiller, discovered this year that strip-tilling drove potato yields to record levels, reports Guy Swanson, owner of Exactrix, Spokane, Wash.
          McClure used pre-plant application of TAPPS banded on 20-inch centers with a DMI strip-till toolbar drove potato yields through the roof as compared to dry fertilizer and 32% liquid nitrogen, Swanson says.

          Potato yields were around 40,000 pounds per acre, which is about 25% higher than potatoes planted under other center pivots. McClure farms in western Kansas, where the temperatures are hot during the day and night in the summer. While the soils are sandy, these hot temperatures are not ideal for potatoes. In fact, the conditions are akin to a Dust Bowl with water.

         McClure applied TAPPS at Corn Belt rates, using variable-rate application based on yield maps in four management zones.
The Exactrix uniform application of crystalline TAPPS was made at the typical Ortho Ratio developed by Chevron Chemical…   The application of Tri-Ammonium Poly Phosphate Sulfate and Zn or TAPPS was a mistake since Joel had not planned on the pivot being planted to potatoes.

          The nominal rate was 150 pounds of nitrogen 60 pounds of phosphate, 40 pounds sulfur and (1 pound AZN.) However, there were four lower rates used in the four   variable rate management zones .  Crop Quest agronomist Garrett Havel had helped with the design of the VRT application for corn.

          Some of McClure’s corn under center-pivot irrigation has averaged 275 bushels per acre with TAPPS that was variable-rate, site-specific applied.
 McClure harvested 46,000 bushels of corn in 12 hours and 11 minutes with one Case 7120 combine. He used two bank-out wagons and a bagging system.  (This field averaged 240 bushels per acre.)

          This is an unplanned discovery….since potatoes are never raised with NH3 and Polyphosphate….to my knowledge this is the only potato field in North America that has NH3 directly applied to it. Joel has broken a barrier…..that obviously will be tried in Washington and Idaho.  Potato producers are fussy about nutrients…..Timing and Broadcast application…virtually no banding.  

          This serendipity could not have happened in Idaho, Oregon or Washington….not Alberta…..because serious corn producers seeking a much bigger net margin use NH3 and TAPPS….and avoid applying nutrients with a pivot.  Strip Till is on the Mark….The question to Joel is.   “Will he do it again”…..and what did the contractor of the potatoes think?  

          The is major breakthrough which will absolutely create a problem the fertilizer suppliers of PNW. ….and maybe Prosser or Pullman….or Moscow or Aberdeen…..will need to do a study.  




Exactrix® Global Systems LLC
4501 East Trent Ave.
Spokane, WA 99212
509 995 1879 cell, Pacific.