For an established no-tiller to find that “higher gear” and push their operation to a higher level of profitability, it might be necessary to step outside of the daily grind to find a source of new ideas.

If you’re in this category, you’re not alone. A desire to improve profitability has fueled the success of the Palliser Agricultural Management Society, a small peer group of a dozen farmers who no-till wheat, alfalfa, canola, barley and other crops in Alberta, Canada.

The information shared by members of this invitation-only group is proprietary. Topics include no-till best practices, intensified cropping, weed management, variety selection, equipment performance, farm succession and even labor relations.

Members pay $500 annual dues, and they also foot the bill for high-caliber speakers like no-till expert Dwayne Beck or soil scientist Jill Clapperton. Membership is limited to 20, and new members must be unanimously approved by current ones.

What drives the group is a thirst for information that is relevant to their situation. Provincial funding was cut for district agriculturalists and research during the 1990s – all at a time when no-tillers in the region had just begun to establish successful no-till systems and increase the diversity of their rotations, reports No-Till Farmer contributing editor Mark Parker.

“There was a lot of information directed toward beginning farmers, but it wasn’t particularly useful for us,” says Brian Hildebrand, a Foremost, Alberta no-tiller of small grains. “We had a big need for more personally tailored information and in-depth, long-term research.”

You can read the entire article — which is featured in the August 2013 edition of No-Till Farmer’s Conservation Tillage Guide — by clicking here.

Farmers can sometimes be fiercely protective of their information and knowledge. But with funding for research and Extension agents perpetually in jeopardy, maybe it’s time no-tillers start exploring the value of being in a peer group.

It’s been said before: Learning is a lifelong event.

John Dobberstein,
Managing Editor
No-Till Farmer