Driving home from the 2nd Annual National Strip-Tillage Conference in Iowa City, Iowa, last week, I had some time to rewind and reflect on the 2-day event.

Structured knowledge sharing took place in classrooms and general sessions — where valuable nuggets, such as adding sugar to a strip-tilled corn crop’s diet, or discussing why it’s important to dig deeper than 6 inches to understand soil properties. But I always relish the hallway conversations where some of the most candid conversations can take place.

Talking with speakers and attendees throughout the conference, one recurring acknowledgment was that they don’t have all the answers. As Bill Darrington, who uses a hybrid of no-till and strip-till on his Persia, Iowa, farm told me, “It’s nice to talk with farmers who all have an open mind and have an ambition to improve together. That’s how we all become better farmers.”

Any egos could be checked at the door. And having the opportunity to see some familiar faces from the 2014 event and meet some new strip-tillers, it was clear that everyone realized they’re in the same situation — striving to be more profitable, productive and efficient in their current system, while planning for future.

This comes at a time when commodity prices are increasing the sense of urgency for some farmers on when and how much change they want to make to their current farming practices. 

But even in an uncertain economic climate, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey made a point at the conference to applaud the efforts of progressive strip-tillers willing to work together to do what is best for their farm and their community.

“We have all the tools on the farm and we allow that innovation to happen,” he said. “Meetings like this one here today, and the questions that you ask of your suppliers, will bring us to the next generation."

Not every question may have been was asked or answered, but the important thing is that the conversation keeps going among strip-tillers.

 What topics or concepts would you like to see discussed at next year’s National Strip-Tillage Conference? Share your story with me at (262) 782-4480, ext. 441, or send me an e-mail at jzemlicka@lesspub.com