Note: You can listen to my conversation with Daran Rudnick below.
Last year was the second year for the Testing Ag Performance Solutions farm management competition. And, in the second year, there were a few new components added.
Most notably, a sorghum competition was added to the corn competition. Both gave participants a chance to grow their respective crops under a variable-rate-equipped center pivot, and make input management decisions relating to hybrid selection, seeding rate, irrigation, nitrogen, crop insurance and marketing.
In the latest Down in the Weeds podcast, we visit with Daran Rudnick, Nebraska Extension irrigation management specialist and one of the coordinators of the TAPS program, on some of the differences between the 2017 and 2018 competitions, including key takeaways on different management strategies used and what the results were.
Contestants receive awards for highest profitability, greatest input use efficiency and highest yield. And Rudnick notes the competition used a different method to calculate efficiency in 2018.
In 2017, contestants were ranked based on a composite of yield, nitrogen uptake efficiency and evapotranspiration efficiency for irrigation.
"We found a better approach in 2018. It's called Water Nitrogen Intensification Performance Index," Rudnick says. "It was a way to equally combine the impacts of water and nitrogen in terms of, how efficient were you in terms of putting on irrigation to increase your ET or your evapotranspiration above a control?
"And likewise, when you put on your nitrogen fertilizer, how efficient were you at increasing nitrogen uptake above a control, relative to the combined increase in yield above that control? We found this efficiency index is quite appropriate in terms of identifying optimal, collective management practices that are very closely related to profit. It penalizes those inefficiencies in terms of if you were excessive on one of or both of those inputs, and it also penalizes you if you short them both because that shows up in the reduction in your yield."