As I begin crunching the numbers and analyzing the record number of responses to our 2017 Strip-Till Operational Practices Benchmark study, some interesting trends are taking shape.

Initial review of the data reveals year-over-year increases in cover crop usage and fall strip-till, with decreases in anhydrous ammonia application and shank-style setups on row units.

But the answers I enjoy reviewing most are to the final question, which asks strip-tillers to share their wish list of equipment or technology that would most improve their operation.

There’s always a wide spectrum of responses, from a need for higher-horsepower tractors (650-700 hp) to cheaper sources of phosphorus and potassium. But the most sought-after improvements strip-tillers are longing for is on the technology side, with the majority of respondents asking for some type of progressive precision tool to be developed for the market.

A few of the more inventive requests included a triple-tank on-the-go fertilizer blending system compatible with a strip-till rig, row-by-row calibration capabilities for a strip-till bar and a robotic cover crop planter.

If necessity is the mother of invention, we may see these innovations in the field sooner rather than later, especially with the current pace of precision farming developments.

Look for in-depth coverage of the 2017 Strip-Till Operational Practices Benchmark study in the Summer issue of No-Till Farmer’s Conservation Tillage Guide and click here to check out prior study results.