Each growing season, it's fun to check out the different test plots and experiments hosted by universities and companies.
This year, there's one in particular that I'm watching in anticipation. It's the 2010 Yield Challenge, sponsored by the Illinois Soybean Association. One reason it's so exciting: actual farmers are designing the "experiments" to achieve the highest yield possible.
Here's how it's structured. Teams of 5-10 growers compete against other teams within their same crop-reporting district to see who can achieve the highest soybean yield. Each team member must grow a control plot and a test plot.
Here's another exciting tidbit. A lot of corporate sponsors are getting involved in this. Thus, expect to see the best in soybean technology on these farms.
Therefore, this contest really has two very interesting components. First, how high can we push soybean yields? It's my understanding that the University of Illinois will be collaborating with the project. I'm sure they'll be able to generate hundreds of follow-up experiments from this contest.
Second, the prospect of growers receiving the latest and greatest in seed, chemicals and fertilizer, free of charge in most cases, is quite intriguing. Once this is all over, I'd really like to find out what folks will be willing to pay for in 2011 that they didn't previously think was worth it.
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