Though 2011 will be just his third year producing sugarbeets under a strip-till system, Chris Guza has already implemented some big changes.
First, he has replaced his original strip-till unit — a converted row-crop cultivator — with a new SoilWarrior machine manufactured by Environmental Tillage Systems (ETS). And second, he has now transitioned from 30-inch rows into 22s.
Guza, who farms in Michigan’s Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola counties, moved into strip till in 2008 because of the opportunities he saw for reduced field passes in preparing his seedbed. He was already planting his beets into a stale seedbed and liked it. “But we didn’t like how much effort it took to get the ground fit to stale seedbed,” he recounts. Most of Guza’s sugarbeets follow corn. “So we’d harvest the corn, shred the stalks, variable-rate apply our P and K (in separate passes), disk rip and then field cultivate.”
Mari Brothers of N.E. Colorado Enthused With Strip-Till System, But Always Seeking Improvement
Mari Brothers Photo by Don Lilleboe
Left: Bob Mari (at left) and his brother Rod have grown sugarbeets for Western Sugar Cooperative since 2000, prior to its becoming a co-op. Their father, Clarence (right), a second-generation grower for the old Great Western Sugar Company, stopped raising beets in 1972, so there was a nearly 30-year gap for the crop on the Mari farm near Merino, Colo.
Bob Mari will never be a poster boy for the “This Is the Way We’ve Always Done It” club. First, he’s a sugarbeet grower. Second, he’s a young beet grower. And third, he and brother Rod are relatively new beet growers, so they’re not bound by long-term habits or tradition. They are, instead, motivated simply by the desire and need to make their operation as efficient — and profitable — as possible. And employing a strip-till production system is a primary vehicle for the Mari brothers. The northeastern Colorado growers have planted their center-pivot sugarbeet acres under strip till since the 2005 crop year.