Tim Dritz didn’t hesitate to drive 350 miles from his western Minnesota farm for a day and a half August meeting in Waterloo, Iowa. Neither did Charlie Hammer from Beaver Dam, Wisc., whose drive was about 250 miles one-way. The veteran strip-tillers didn’t mind because they were going to a peer meeting they valued – in meetings and online. They met on an invitation-only Facebook page dedicated to strip-till, which quickly branched out to technologic ways to boost agronomic efficiency, says Loran Steinlage, one of the group’s early members. “Some of us had known one other for a long time; we made a Facebook page, and it grew from there, he says.

Dritz and Hammer are part of an online group of 25 who met near Waterloo for a summer event. Some had met last January at Loran Steinlage’s farm near West Union, Iowa. The group’s common theme is freely sharing ideas to advance their agronomic and operational strategies, says another group member, Jacob Bolson. He helps manage a family farm and works full-time off the farm, put the program together and helped organize the summer event. “Cropping and equipment systems are also points of conversation,” he adds.

On the agenda this time: four hours of give and take from cover-crop expert Joel Gruver of Western Illinois University; a morning of firsthand information on strip intercropping; row-by-row and plant-by-plant yield analysis from Cedar Valley Innovation owner and veteran agricultural engineer Bob Recker, Waterloo, Iowa; and an afternoon visit to Clay and Wade Mitchell’s farm near Buckingham, Iowa, to learn more about controlled traffic, strip-till and nutrient banding.