Fruit yield in systems relying on tilled strips or some other form of reduced tillage tends to be lower and delayed compared to systems containing standard plastic-covered raised beds. Still, reduced tillage offers other benefits. If the productivity of reduced till (e.g., strip till) systems could be increased, their use and overall value may also increase.
We have experimented with various approaches to strip-till tomato and pepper production at the OARDC in Wooster consistently since 2014 and during previous years. Excellent work on the same topic has also been completed at other universities (e.g., Iowa State Univ., Michigan State Univ.). With support from the USDA SCRI and ORG programs, SARE, and industry, the current approach by the OSU VPSL is to ask if strip-till systems can be made more productive by including grafted plants and/or crop biostimulants; both may help address the ‘tight’ soils and other limitations associated with some strip-till experiences. At the same time, folks interested in grafted plants and/or crop biostimulants on their own merits — but questioning their returns on investment — may find that returns are beneficial if either technology helps make it more feasible to adopt reduced tillage approaches. The thirteen panels below outline the experiment underway at the OARDC in Wooster. Contact Matt Kleinhenz (firstname.lastname@example.org or 330.263.3810) for more information. Special thanks to Sonia Walker, Nicole Wright, Mark Spigos, Dana Hilfinger, the OARDC Farm Crew, Stephanie Short, and others for contributing to this effort.