Mark Kingma, Perkins’ neighbor, started attending meetings about the same time he decided to use cover crops to rebuild the soil organic matter on his farm. He also experiments with vertical tillage to improve corn-on-corn yields.

“Everybody is using cover crops in areas where they’re trying to affect some change,” says Kingma, who farms about 2,700 acres in Jasper County. “We all share what works, successes we’ve had, and how that compares to what’s recommended. The information we’re getting is pretty good.”

He says he attends the meetings to get ideas, but mostly the conversations confirm his current practices. “What’s interesting, is (most of the group) is moving from tillage to no-till through vertical tillage. We’re going the other way. We’re doing vertical tillage because we want to make no-till corn-on-corn work more effectively in our soil.”

But the group can’t help with all his problems. “With farming, all the information you get is still dependent on the weather,” he says with a laugh.