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What I Did This Summer: National Strip-Tillage Conference

By now, you’re aware of the Dealership Minds Summit (DMS) that’s taking place this summer in Iowa City. What may be less familiar is the annual conference for farmers that commences as soon as the Summit wraps up. 

It’s the National Strip-Tillage Conference (NSTC), now in its 9th year. Patterned after 30 years of successful National No-Tillage Conferences (NNTC), the NSTC features general sessions, classrooms and peer-to-peer roundtables and is the only educational event we know of devoted 100% to strip-tillage. The event is the flagship of our Strip-Till Division that was started in 2009 and now includes the national event, a quarterly print magazine, podcasts, webinars and special reports.

We routinely invite farmers to a private focus group dinner at these events. I usually take a few moments at each to inquire about their local equipment dealers and performance. And having done these regularly for close to 10 years, the feedback is always the same.

These farmers need YOUR help, and they believe there are profits to be had for dealers who make an investment in “knowing” specialized equipment like strip-till.

“It doesn’t take much to fan a flame, but it does take a spark, and that’s the NSTC … H&R Agri-Power has brought customers on 1,400-mile roundtrip for the annual conference, to learn alongside them and invest in both parties’ know-how in one fell swoop…”

A Lesson From the Past?

Right or wrong, farmers have long expressed that understanding conservation tillage practices rarely get their due in machinery dealerships. A few notable exceptions come to mind (Binkley & Hurst in Pennsylvania is one who’s made a successful business out of being no-till planter experts), but I’ve heard this at my first NNTC in 2004 and almost every year since. 

While no-till was resisted due to less tractor and implement requirements,  it’s no secret that no-till is no longer a niche practice. When my dad put out the first No-Till Farmer in 1972 (10 years after the first commercial no-till crop was planted in Kentucky), total U.S. acreage was 3.3 million acres. Since that time, the practice had grown 33-fold in 50 years to 110 million acres. There were a lot of naysayers about the no-till practice in those early days. Some dealers jumped in early, while a lot sat on the sidelines. 

Now take strip-till. While strip-till is in its relative infancy (perhaps like no-till was in the 1970s), there’s more upside for machinery dealers. Strip-till requires a more powerful tractor, and the large equipment that offers both wholesale and parts sales. Even the most protectionist of machinery dealers should be able to see gains by establishing a foothold in strip-tillage.

Farmers Largely Left to Their Own

Farmers tell us they’re often left to their own devices to figure out the equipment, the unique set-ups, the differences in nutrient application, seeding depth, etc. That’s precisely why we have a successful conference. While farmers generally get their questions answered, the transfer of that technological know-how back home is plodding along at a much slower pace than they’d like. They want you, their machinery dealer, to brush up on strip-tillage too. And because of our unique position of also serving dealers via Farm Equipment & Precision Farming Dealer, they’re suggesting we can facilitate that synergy.

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