The Illinois Soybean Association is encouraging any Illinois soybean grower interested in achieving higher yields and profit potential to sign up for the 2012 Yield Challenge before the April 15 registration deadline.
Established by ISA and funded by the Illinois soybean checkoff, the Yield Challenge provides a platform for growers to test new and innovative crop management strategies and technologies that could help boost their yields. Participating growers also generate and share valuable data that can be used to formulate recommendations for future production years.
Participation in the Yield Challenge is open to soybean growers – as individuals or teams – and students from FFA chapters, community colleges and universities, and college ag clubs. Teams should be comprised of five to 10 members who all may be from the same crop reporting district (District Team) or multiple districts (At-Large Team). They also may enroll a sponsor to help with costs, strategy and agronomic advice.
Gary Baumhardt, a representative for multi-team sponsor BASF, stresses that the Yield Challenge is not limited to top growers: "It's kind of a mixture… some [growers] are already growing exceptionally high soybean yields, and some are at their county's average or even below it. So, don't think that just because you aren't growing high-yield soybeans now that you can't be on a team."
Yield Challenge participants may reap more than just production-related benefits:
Cash awards are given to the two teams with the highest bushel per acre increase (average of top five results from each team) in each district, as well as for the At-Large category. Each member of a first place team receives $500, and each member of a second place team receives $250.
One-hundred-bushel winners, who have solid verification of results and comply with all information requests, will receive a trip to the 2013 Commodity Classic in Kissimmee, Fla.
Certificates will be given to those individuals who attain the highest yields in their districts and in the At-Large category, as well as for achieving an increase of 10 bushels or more.
To be eligible for awards and recognition, each team must comply with all applicable rules and requirements, including meeting submission deadlines for registration/planting intentions (July 1) and final harvest/data reporting (November 1).
"It's really a challenge to raise these yields, but I would encourage any Illinois grower to take part," says Ross Prough, ISA director and Greenfield farmer. "We have simplified the record-keeping process significantly, making it easier to complete and report your production data. This program is definitely something worth getting involved in, and it brings a new level of excitement when waiting to see where we can get with it."
To help teams connect with sponsors, ISA has identified several localized companies that have expressed an interest in getting involved in the program. Each of these organizations offers a new technology that has shown promise in increasing soybean yields. A complete list of these potential sponsors is available online at www.soyyieldchallenge.com/TechSponsors. Growers who identify a technology they would like to test should contact the company directly to discuss setting up a team.
Complete details about the Yield Challenge, including information on how it works, pricing structure and an online registration form, can be found at www.soyyieldchallenge.com. Interested growers also may contact the Yield Challenge Coordinator, Jim Nelson, at (309) 825-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.