Science, technology, engineering and math careers are in high demand and will continue to be in future years. To engage youth in crop science-based education, the Innovative Youth Corn Challenge was created as a partnership between the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Extension.
Since the IYCC program’s inception in 2012, 53 teams have participated in the program, with 32 teams successfully harvesting and analyzing their plot data. A total of 148 youths have participated. The contest, open to 4-H or FFA members, guides participants through all aspects of corn production, as well as agricultural careers related to corn production.
Here's a look at the winning teams and projects:
First place. The winning team for 2019 was the Kornhusker Kids 4-H Club, which included Kaleb and Landon Hasenkamp, Matthew and James Rolf, Levi Schiller, and Ian and Payton Schiller. They worked with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Project SENSE on an in-season nitrogen management program comparing using in-canopy sensors, a drone MZR treatment, or their standard grower treatment.
Their results showed that the grower strips had the highest yield of 256.6 bushels per acre, but cost the most. The MZR treatment yielded 238.67 bushels per acre. The Project SENSE treatment yielded 245.5 bushels per acre and had the best return on investment. It's important to note this team randomized treatments and had three replications of the plots. Their project sponsor was Chris Schiller.
FIRST-PLACE WINNERS: First-place honors went to the Kornhusker Kids 4-H Club of Cuming County. Helping present awards were John Westra, Nebraska Extension, and Boone McAfee, Nebraska Corn Board. Pictured are (back row, from left) John Westra, Levi Schiller, Matthew Rolf, James Rolf and Boone McAfee; (front row, from left) Ian Schiller, Payton Schiller, Landon Hasenkamp and Kaleb Hasenkamp.
Second place. Receiving second place was the Allen-Wakefield FFA chapter, which consisted of Katie Bathke and Ashley Kraemer, sponsor Jeff Geiger, and advisor Josh Batenhorst. They tested a polymicrobial solution for bulk fertilizers called Nachurs Rhyzo-Link LF.
They hypothesized that the treated plants would yield better due to the five Bacillus strains creating a better environment for roots. The Rhyzo-Link plot yielded 243 bushels per acre, compared to 240 bushels per acre for the control, with five replications.
Third place. Third place went to the Rising Stars 4-H Club from Platte County, which consisted of Kade and Isaac Stromberg, and sponsor Brad Stephens. They tested seeding a blend of two hybrids compared to each planted separately.
They had two replications and found that the blend of Pioneer 1197AM with Dekalb DKC60-88RIB yielded 245.48 bushels per acre, while the 1197 by itself yielded 243.99 bushels, and the 60-88 yielded 240.29 by itself. This team also took advantage of an offer from CropMetrics to install a free soil water sensor in its field for irrigation scheduling.
Also completing its plot was the Oakland-Craig FFA team, consisting of Joe Monson, Aiden Jorgensen, Ryan Smith, Cole Buress, Hannah Mosemen and sponsor Kylie Penke. They tested Envite seed treatment, which is intended to help non-legume plants fix nitrogen, to see if there would be an increased yield when the nitrogen rate on the entire plot was reduced by 40%.
They found that the Envite plot had a yield of 232 bushels per acre, compared to 229 bushels per acre for the control.
Also finishing its project was Shelton FFA, consisting of Jacob Snyder, Andrew Rayburn and advisor Hannah Horak. The main topic of their research was a starter fertilizer with a microbial catalyst called Nachur’s Rhyzo-Link 9-15-3.
They had two reps and found that the Nachur’s Rhyzo-Link yielded 230.25 bushels per acre at a cost of $9.95 per acre, compared to 224.4 bushels per acre for the nontreated check.
Other teams that participated but were unable to finish their project because of various circumstances included the Adams Central FFA chapter, the Ord FFA chapter and the Golden Gate Clever Clovers 4-H Club of Washington County.
As a team, youths worked with an adult mentor throughout the process. Mentors can be Extension faculty, ag teachers, or other qualified agronomy professionals.
Other awards given during the banquet on UNL’s East Campus included:
- The Extra Mile Award went to the Rising Stars 4-H Club.
- The Innovation Award was presented to the Kornhusker Kids 4-H Club.
- The Sustainability Award went to the Rising Stars 4-H Club.
The Rising Stars 4-H Club used the Field to Market tool, which is a leading multiple stakeholder initiative that is working to unite the agricultural supply chain in defining, measuring and advancing the sustainability of food, fiber and fuel production in the U.S.
To participate in IYCC in 2020, youths must complete and return an entry form by March 15 to the Fillmore County Extension Office in Geneva, Neb.
VanDeWalle is a Nebraska Extension educator.