A friendly competition is playing out on a farm field in western Nebraska – with producers, scientists and agronomy students working to out-farm one another. The real winners, though, will be corn growers who are looking to bring more efficiency and profitability to their operations.
“This unique program was developed to enhance the engagement of producers at a high level, including resource use efficiency and profitability, by providing a common platform for peer-to-peer learning,” said Daran Rudnick, irrigation and water management specialist at the West Central Research and Extension Center (WCREC) in North Platte, Nebraska. “The information collected from the competition will be compiled, analyzed and presented to the producers and made available to the public.”
Sponsored by the University of Nebraska Lincoln, the Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS) competition includes 15 teams made up of producers, University specialists and undergraduate agronomy students.
“The contestants are responsible for six types of management decisions – irrigation scheduling, nitrogen fertilizer amounts and application, corn hybrid selection, seeding rate, crop insurance selection and marketing choices of their grain yields,” Rudnick said. “Each team’s decisions are implemented on three randomized plots irrigated by a Zimmatic® by Lindsay variable rate irrigation system at WCREC. This method provides for statistical evaluation for further use in publication and mitigation of possible errors and other risk factors.”
The program was developed by Rudnick, Matt Stockton, Chuck Burr and Rodrigo Werle in partnership with the Nebraska Water Balance Alliance. Three cash awards will be presented, recognizing the most profitable farm, the highest input use efficiency and greatest grain yield.
“The information we pull from the program will be especially beneficial to other producers, since it is a comprehensive evaluation of actual management practices made by their peers,” Rudnick said. “Furthermore, we will be able to provide insight into the grower’s decision making process, including what information and technology they use to make important decisions.”
WCREC will host a field day and workshop August 24 and 25. For more information, visit the taps.unl.edu.