By Krystle Rhoades
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's successful Testing Ag Performance Solutions program, based in North Platte, is once again expanding with a new competition. The new contest will be established and conducted at the High Plains Ag Lab near Sidney, Neb., and will feature winter wheat.
Similar to the other four TAPS competitions, three cash awards will be given for most profitable, highest input use efficiency and greatest grain yield. Twenty teams will be able to compete, not only against each other but also against university faculty as well.
Each team will be assigned a farm, which is comprised of a set of five randomized plots that HPAL personnel will manage.
Participants will make several farm management decisions as they would on a real Nebraska Panhandle wheat farm. These decisions include crop insurance, variety, seeding rate, nutrient management, fungicide treatment options and grain marketing. All other management decisions will be fixed by the university and be the same for all farms.
The decisions will be submitted through the official website (www.taps.unl.edu), where in-season plot photos, crop updates and other data and resources also will be provided to the contestants.
Each competitor will have an opportunity to use innovative technology, test new methods, become more aware of what drives profit on their farm, and share the wealth of their own knowledge.
The competition will debut Sept. 6 at a kickoff meeting planned at the High Plains Ag Lab near Sidney. This formal meeting will allow HPAL personnel and contestants to discuss the mechanics of competing.
In-season field tours and meetings also will occur at HPAL before the contest concludes in August 2020 with an awards banquet.
Cody Creech, UNL dryland cropping systems specialist, is one of the innovators of the new competition and says he is most looking forward to "the peer-to-peer learning that will occur as participants and outside observers discuss the choices and strategies teams used in the competition."
This new competition is made possible by the support and partial funding from the Nebraska Wheat Board.
The TAPS program started in North Platte three years ago as a unique and innovative farm management competition focused on irrigated corn. In the past three years, and because of the strong support from partners and sponsors, the program has grown to include four contests this year.
Those contests include pivot irrigated corn, subsurface drip irrigated corn and pivot irrigated sorghum housed at the West Central Research and Extension Center, and an irrigated corn competition in Guymon, Okla., in partnership with Oklahoma State University.
If you have interest in competing in the inaugural winter wheat competition or sponsoring the contest, email Krystle Rhoades, TAPS program coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rhoades is TAPS program coordinator.