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TAPS banquet will honor top producers

Nebraska Notebook: The Crop Skills Challenge tested the knowledge of farmers and youth at Husker Harvest Days.

Curt Arens

November 27, 2023

2 Min Read
Youth and adults alike learned weed and insect identification at HHD
LEARNING BY DOING: Youth and adults alike learned weed and insect identification, irrigation scheduling, and many other crop skills through the UNL TAPS Crop Skills Challenge that had 440 participants at Husker Harvest Days last fall. Curt Arens

The “top guns” in agriculture aren’t hard to find. They will be in Kearney, Neb., on Jan. 13.

The top producers in the University of Nebraska’s Testing Ag Performance Solutions competitive farm management program will be celebrated for their fetes in this simulated field competition, making business management decisions for sprinkler-irrigated corn, subsurface drip corn, sorghum and sprinkler-irrigated popcorn.

In its seventh year, this innovative program hosts a number of interactive, real-life farm management competitions, testing a wide selection of technologies and strategies in a low-risk environment.

TAPS expanded for 2023, with a new competition taking place at Colorado State University, along with the addition of the sprinkler-irrigated popcorn division. The annual banquet, set this year for Younes Conference Center South in Kearney, will begin with a social hour at 5 p.m., followed by the dinner and awards presentations at 6 p.m.

Winners will be announced in categories including greatest yield, highest input use efficiency and most profitable. All participants in TAPS, partners and sponsors, along with those interested in participating in any way, are invited to attend. Registration information is available at taps.unl.edu.

Crop skills at HHD

Of the 440 people who participated in the UNL TAPS Crop Skills Challenge at Husker Harvest Days this past fall, winners were announced from Nebraska, Kansas and Indiana. Many of the participants were return competitors from 2022 HHD.

The challenges this year included an aerial imagery diagnostic matching; pest identification of a weed and insect; disease identification; yield and moisture estimation; and an irrigation scheduling challenge.

“We had one FFA chapter tell us that the only way to get approval from their school administration to attend HHD this year was because of the educational opportunities that Crop Skills Challenge provides,” says Krystle Rhoades, UNL TAPS coordinator. “There was also a young boy along with his dad who competed last year, and his dad said that his son had been waiting all year to come to try the challenges again this year. That duo took home one of the top prizes for the second year.”

To add to the learning experience of the event, participants were able to check their scores shortly after completing the challenges, and winners were announced on social media after each day of HHD.

“Following the conclusion of HHD, the UNL team created videos of the answers, which were released through TAPS social media,” Rhoades says. “The team felt that an educational opportunity was available to them in sharing the answers through those videos.”

Learn more at taps.unl.edu.

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About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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