Strip tillage and sowing: is precision planting indispensable in silage maize?

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.

2 Fattorie Novella Sentieri, 26020 Cappella Cantone (BS), Italy.

3 Agronomist, 25015 Desenzano del Garda (BS), Italy.

Abstract

This work was aimed at assessing whether in silage maize it is possible to replace precision
planting with a volumetric seeding in the perspective of developing hybrid machines to strip till
and sow both high density crops like winter cereals and low density crops like maize. This in
order to reduce the number of machines in the farm, simplify logistics and reduce amortization
costs. Two experiments were carried out in 2014 and 2015. In the first year, two tillage-sowing
treatments were compared in a randomized block design with 5 replicates: 1) strip-tillage plus
volumetric band (0.1 m wide) seeding (ST-VBS) carried out by a Claydon Hybrid 6M at inter
axle spacing of 0.6 m and with 35 kg ha
-1 of seeds; 2) no-tillage plus precision line planting
(NT-PLP) carried out by a sod drill Kinze 3100 at row distance of 0.71 m. In the second year,
the same two treatments of 2014 were applied, but a third tillage-sowing treatment was also
included: strip tillage plus precision line planting (ST-PLP) carried out by a strip tiller Khun
Striger at inter axle spacing of 0.71 m plus the Kinze 3100, respectively, in two passages.
In 2015, a randomized block design with 3 replicates was adopted. Both in 2014 and 2015
treatments did not differ significantly for actual seeding density and final plant density,
individual plant growth indices (plant height, stem diameter, FW, DW) at early stem elongation,
flowering and final harvest, neither for total FW and DW yield, nor for biomass composition
(starch, protein, lipids, fibre and ash concentrations) at harvest. Results demonstrate that a silage
maize crop can perform successfully when established by strip tillage associated with
volumetric band seeding. If similar results are demonstrated for high density crops, this will
support the strategy of developing hybrid machines to strip till and sow both high density crops
and silage maize, which is relevant for many farming systems devoted to forage and biomass
production for agro-energy purposes.

Keywords