BLOOMINGTON, ILL.—April 4, 2017—Spring is here and that means planting is just around the corner. Soybean growers in Illinois are looking for an edge in production, and the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) has the answer. Interested in testing new practices and comparing how they perform against other fields? Looking to break yield barriers and push pods to their full potential? The ISA Yield Challenge is the opportunity to experiment with on-farm trials, discover what works best on your soil and compete with your peers in Illinois, all for a chance at cash rewards and bragging rights come harvest.
The Yield Challenge was launched in 2010 to encourage growers to conduct on-farm research, evaluating different management practices, with the goal of increasing yields and profits. The challenge is entering its eighth year in 2017 and average contest yields continue to increase significantly.
“Our goal is to make wise use of the checkoff dollars by encouraging farmers to try new things and learn what works best on their farms,” said John Longley, soybean farmer from Aledo, Ill., and ISA Production Committee chair. “We know growers want their production to be sustainable and profitable, and the Yield Challenge provides the forum to take small steps that could leave a big impact on their farm management practices.”
“The main benefit of the Yield Challenge, to me, is to learn about new production techniques, try new products, and find out what works and what doesn’t,” said Dan Arkels, LaSalle County farmer and the first winner of the 100-Bushel Challenge. “When I learn something that absolutely works in my Yield Challenge plot, I’ll apply that to my production acres the following year.”
So, what can you test in the Yield Challenge? There are really no limits—package up the best varieties with tillage, planting date, planting practices, seed treatments, foliar protection, foliar feeding, biologicals—think of a question or problem you’d like answered, and take the steps toward learning more.
Growers can compete in four categories:
- 100-Bushel Challenge
The grower who achieves the largest yield over 100 bushels per acre takes home a $5,000 prize.
- Crop District Contest
Growers compete within their district for the top yield. First place receives $500 and second place earns $250.
- Double Crop Competition
Growers who double crop soybeans after wheat or another crop harvested that same season can now submit a yield entry. Crop Districts 6+7 and 8+9 will be combined into two regions. First place receives $500 and second place earns $250 in each region.
- Side-by-Side Comparison Plots
Growers compare standard practices (control plot) with improved practices (test plot). The grower with the highest percentage yield increase in their district receives $500, while second highest receives $250.
Growers are eligible to win each category and may enter all four. To study the details, visit www.soyyieldchallenge.com.
The District Yield Contest and District Side-by-Side will have winners from each of the nine districts in Illinois, the 100-Bushel Challenge will only have one winner from top yields in the state and the new Double Crop Competition has winners from two regions in Southern Illinois. By organizing competition in districts, growers only compete with their peers in the district where they share similar environment, soils and weather.
“To growers interested in in participating in the Yield Challenge I would suggest it starts with your seed dealer and local co-op or agronomist,” explained Arkels. “They’re going to have the products and knowledge you need to get you to the next level. That’s where it all begins, you can’t do it by yourself; surround yourself with people that are going to help you succeed.”
Unique to the Yield Challenge this year, there is no sign-up, early entry date or entry fee to submit. The entry form will be submitted one time, at harvest, and is due on November 15, 2017. Visit www.soyyieldchallenge.com to sign up for the Yield Challenge newsletter and be notified throughout the season of guidelines and updates for 2017.
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) represents more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois through the state soybean checkoff and membership efforts. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, promotion, issues management and analysis, communications and education. Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmer interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C. ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace. For more information, visit the website www.ilsoy.org.
For more information, contact:
ISA Yield Challenge Coordinator