Nebraska Farmer Logo

Bragging rights on line at TAPS crops challenge

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln brings the contest back to Husker Harvest Days.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

August 22, 2023

3 Min Read
kids siphoning
FILL ’ER UP: Kids and adults can test their knowledge and siphoning skill at the UNL TAPS Crops Skills Challenge. The tubes won’t be part of the contest, however, this year. Photos by Farm Progress

It may not be your typical summer Olympic games, but for crop producers, it is a competition that will test their management skills.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Testing Ag Performance Solutions, or TAPS, program and the Nebraska Extension water and integrated cropping systems team brought their Crops Skills Challenge to Husker Harvest Days in 2022 for the first time.

The competition pitting farmers and other agriculture youth and professionals against each other is not only in physical farm skills, but also more in skills between the ears in crop production.

At last year’s show, more than 330 people participated over the three days, including 35 FFA teams, comprised of two to four high school students.

“Now that we have a year of this under our belts,” says Krystle Rhoades, UNL TAPS program manager, “we are going to make a few modifications to, hopefully, make it even better.”

Competition specifics

UNL TAPS will run the entire day this year, allowing people to stop and compete any time, rather than at set times, Rhoades says. “One set of awards will be given each day for a student division, and another set will be given for a non-student division.”

Participants can check their scores online, and the results will be announced each day on the TAPS social media outlets.

“We are moving to a different and larger location this year, which is going to allow us to expand the competition offerings some,” Rhoades says. “This year’s participants will be challenged in events focusing on aerial imagery, weed identification, entomology scouting, grain moisture and yield estimation, and water-use efficiency.”

The siphon tubes, which were a fan favorite last year, will be available again for people to try their hand at, but this won’t be a part of the contest this year.

Rhoades says the UNL group helping to organize the event is also planning to compile an educational video providing answers following the event, so participants can learn more about the categories they participated in.

Win gift card

Growers aren’t just competing for bragging rights over their neighbors. There is prize money at stake in each division each day:

First place: $250 Amazon gift card

Second place: $150 gift card

Third place: $100 gift card

TAPS is an innovative, interactive competitive program developed by UNL and Nebraska Extension to bring together producers, Extension scientists, industry leaders, ag students and educators as part of a highly engaged, competitive network, focused on input-use efficiency and profitability in crop production.

In the past, TAPS has held similar events as part of the program’s annual summer field day at West Central Research and Extension Center at North Platte.

So, how do your cropping skills match up? Stop by the booth, enter the contest and find out. Perhaps you can put some money in your pocket at the same time.

Learn more about the TAPS program at

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.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like