The North Iowa Strip Tillage Expo

Gary Hall, Cerro Gordo CEED; Dennis Johnson, Worth County CEED; and George Cummins, Crops Field Specialist, Northeast Area


Minimum and no-till farming systems are widely recognized for their erosion control/ soil conservation benefits. These systems also reduce fuel and labor (less field trips) requirements. The demand for corn has greatly increased the number of continuous corn acres. Research and farmer experience indicates a significant yield/ profit reduction from high-residue systems, particularly on the cool, wet soils common in North Iowa. In recent years, strip tillage has been promoted as a system that captures the conservation advantages from retaining residue cover and the production advantages of tillage. Farmer entrepreneurs and equipment providers have developed/ are refining strip tillage systems that work. Research trials have been established in Northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota to compare various tillage systems including strip tillage under local soil conditions. We have several years of agronomic and economic data that will help farmers make informed decisions.

Programmatic Response:

The first North Iowa Strip Tillage Expo was held February 23rd at the Muse-Norris Conference Center on the NIACC Campus, Mason City. The program was developed and implemented by a committee of Tony Moore, the Cerro Gordo County District Conservationist; Kevin Muhlenruch, the NIACC Crops Instructor; Gray Hall and Dennis Johnson, the Cerro Gordo and Worth County CEEDs respectively; and George Cummins, ISU Extension Field Agronomist. The program featured educational presentations on: The Agronomic Aspects of Strip Till” by Brad Carlson, U of Minnesota Extension Specialist; “The Economics of Strip Till” by Mike Duffy, ISU Extension Farm Management Specialist; “Equipment Options for Strip Till” by Kevin Kimberley, a private toolbar consultant sponsored by NRCS; and a farmer panel of four experienced North Iowa strip tillers. Static strip till equipment displays were set up from 12 different manufacturers allowing Expo attendees to see the equipment first hand and to speak individually with specific manufacturers.

ISU Extension Field Staff were very visible helping with registration; as information providers; as the panel moderator; and with general program coordination and implementation.


Total attendance of 152 includes participants, speakers, static display exhibitors, students and committee hosts.  The participant list included farmers; professional agronomists and crop consultants; ag lenders; chemical, fertilizer and equipment dealers; educators; and the media. Total attendance included participants from Iowa and Minnesota. Iowa participants represented 23 counties from around the state. Thirty seven participants completed the program evaluation. They indicated that they manage/ own > 65,000 acres of which almost 9500 acres (14.6%) is currently strip-tilled. The survey indicates those responding intend to increase strip tilled acres to > 15,000 acres (23%) within the next two years.

On a scale of 1 (very good) to 5 (useless) the average rating for the educational programs was:

        Agronomic Aspects               1.97

        Economic                        2.4

        Equipment Options               1.94

        Farmer Panel                    1.62

On a scale of 1 (Very Knowledgeable) to 5 (Knew Little) average response to the question, “Prior to attending the Expo, how would you rate your strip till knowledge?” was 2.86.

On a scale of 1 (Improved Greatly) to 5 (No Change) average response to the question, “How did your knowledge of strip till change because you attended this workshop?” was 2.51.

Additional information was requested on fertilizer application and rates; techniques for accurate/ representative soil testing when fertilizers are banded over time; strip till equipment options and adjustment in varying soil conditions; the economics of strip till; more research results on strip tilled soybeans into corn residue; twin row planting on strips and how to utilize strip till where the operation includes livestock and manure. One participant indicated the most important thing he learned was, “That there are more strip tillers than just me!”

Comments from exhibitors indicate that they were glad they participated in the Expo, thought it was worth their time, and that they had picked up a number of useful contacts/ potential customer leads.

KIMT TV included footage from the Expo in their regular news broadcasts. Agri-news, an agricultural newspaper with readership in the Tri-state area will feature articles from the Expo presentations expanding the educational impact of the Expo.

 ISU Extension took the lead in organizing, publicizing and conducting the Expo…from idea to implementation in 8 weeks. The Expo exemplifies the excellent working relationship that exists between Iowa State University, the Ag Department and Conference staff at North Iowa Area Community College, and NRCS; the working relationship across state lines between Minnesota and Iowa Extension; and the cooperative relationship that exists between ISU and the agri-businesses and dealerships which service our area.


100 Corn and Soybean Production and Protection

161 Adoption and Implementation of Conservation Practices

Page last updated: March 5, 2009
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,