We worked with five groups of Iowa farmers who shared different pieces of machinery. Under our mentoring, each group developed sharing agreements; some groups continue to share equipment and other inputs. In this paper, we provide an overview of the project and case studies of machinery sharing as well as summarize the benefits and challenges faced by growers during the first year in machinery-sharing arrangements. Our results suggest that in addition to allowing growers to cost-effectively access specialized equipment and improve their labor efficiency, sharing can provide other benefits, including improved access to skilled labor, reduced risk, and idea sharing among peer groups of like-minded individuals. Commonly cited concerns with machinery-sharing arrangements, including having access to the equipment when most needed, can be alleviated with careful advanced planning and open communication.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/georgeanne-artz/24/