Zach Reiter co-owns Z&J Farms, a shortline dealer that specializes in strip-till equipment. The company is based in Cascade, Iowa, but staff works with farmers in multiple states, including New York, Idaho, Georgia and Texas.

“I talk to strip-tillers from all over almost every day of the week,” Reiter says. “Many of them are new to the practice.”

There’s usually a common denominator when someone tells him they tried and failed with strip-till.

“The first question I always ask is, ‘Did your dealer support you?’” Reiter says. “Did they give you information? Did they help you out? Most of the time they say no. Their dealer just dropped off the machine at their farm and left them to their own devices. Sometimes it’s just as easy as saying, ‘I’ve been there. It will be OK.’”

Reiter is successful at selling strip-till because he lives it. He started strip-tilling corn on his 3,000-acre farm in 2016 after years of conventional tillage.

“We did some comparisons between strip-till and full tillage, liked what we saw and eventually evolved to 100% strip-till,” Reiter says. “There were multiple reasons we did it. Part of it was labor. With strip-till, we combine a deep ripper pass, fertilizer application and soil finisher pass all into one.”

Time is precious when running a dealership and farm at the same time. Reiter strip-tilled about 2,200 of his acres last fall, leaving him only 500 to worry about in the spring of 2024.

“Sometimes it’s just as easy as saying, ‘I’ve been there. It will be OK’…”

“The second thing we like about strip-till is it helps us keep the nutrients on our farm, where we want them,” Reiter says. “And the third part, not to be overlooked, is the soil health benefit of strip-till. We’re seeing far less erosion, and our soils are more alive.”

While the benefits are clear, Reiter understands the process of changing an entire operation isn’t easy and what works for him might not for someone else. At the end of the day, it’s his job to find out what each individual needs to be successful.

“If the customer is a full-tillage guy with a 600-horsepower tractor who wants to save passes across the field, we’ll look to get him into a 24-row setup on a shank bar,” Reiter shares as an example. “On the other hand, if the customer is a no-tiller who wants to put fertilizer down and is a 12-row guy with a 250-horsepower tractor, we’ll set him up with a rig to make lighter strips. We ask a lot of questions to find out what they are capable of and looking to accomplish.”

Reiter encourages every first-time strip-tiller to network with other strip-tillers and work with equipment dealers that know strip-till well, even if it’s not their local dealer.

“Seek out a dealer that specializes in strip-till and can share information to give you a better chance for success,” Reiter says. “Switching to strip-till requires a shift in your mindset and how your whole operation works, but it’s worth it.”

How helpful was your dealer when you first started strip-tilling? I’d love to hear your story — email me at And as far as networking goes, I hope to see you at the 2024 National Strip-Tillage Conference Aug. 8-9 in Madison, Wis.