6 Stripping Shanks

On the sixth day of Christmas, the Dairy Man gave to me
6: Six stripping shanks


5: Fiiiiiiiive commodity baaaays
4: Four milking shells
3: Three shifts of milking
2: Two orange tractors
1: And a twinkly-light laden faux tree

Something about the word “shank” makes me feel cool and dangerous. Like a stocky gangbuster out in the prison yard. Or a villain in a James Bond movie. But though this apparatus looks like it could be a torture device from a Bond flick, it serves a more wholesome purpose on our dairy: to help prepare the soil for planting corn. After all, this is a family show.

You might remember that the Dairy Man changed our field prep practice this year from disking to strip-tilling. I promise it’s not as dirty as it sounds. The strip-tiller machine has six rows with six shanks to churn up the soil. DM hooks the machine to a tractor and drives up and down (and up and down and up and down) the fields, creating perfect rows for our little corn babies.



Strip-tilling works for us because a lot of our fields are sandy and hilly. It helps to eliminate soil erosion by only churning up strips of soil (as opposed to the entire field) and leaving organic material behind. This gives the corn plants an existing root structure to grow into and keeps more nutrients in the soil.


So there you have it. Strip-tilling is thrilling stuff. And my apologies to the wayward Googlers; but trust me, stripping is far more interesting on a dairy.

8 thoughts on “6 Stripping Shanks

  1. You are doing such a great job with your blog! I love the “12 days of Christmas” idea! It’s fun to read, while educating people. I was looking at those stripping shanks and thinking, why don’t we have those on our farm? And then I remembered: we are no-till, meaning we leave the soil in place and plant into it. We plant cover crops, such as tillage radishes and vetch, in the fall and let them do the work of conditioning the soil. It’s interesting to see the different methods of farming. No-till is good here in Kansas to build up the soil, keep it in place, and prevent another Dust Bowl. It is astounding to think that the Dust Bowl could have been prevented. Keep up the fantastic work!

    1. Thanks, Dawn! Funny you should mention tillage radishes, because I’ve actually only recently learned what those are! DM and his dad have been talking about radishes as a possibility for our fields next year. It really is interesting how many different methods farmers employ to get the fields ready!

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