Interested in entering a soybean contest? Reach out to professionals and sponsors to test an idea.

Interested in breaking your own soybean yield record, breaking the 100-bushel ceiling or just seeing if a new package of technologies improves your soybean yield over your current soybean practices? Well, the 2018 Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) has a challenge that meets your interests.

ISA has been sponsoring the Yield Challenge since 2010. Over the last eight years farmers in Illinois have broken 100 bushels multiple times and many growers set personal bests at 80 and 90 bushels per acre. And in the side-by-side test we have seen gains anywhere from 0.5 to 30 bushels per acre with an average of 5 to 6 bushels per acre. This year the Yield Challenge is back again with both irrigated and non-irrigated 100-bushel categories and regional categories for yield, double-crop and side-by-side. You can learn more by visiting Yield Challenge website.

The Yield Challenge is a great place to try out new ideas in a relatively small setting without betting the farm on a new concept or package. Of course, the best places to find ideas include reading ag press, talking to farmers, attending shows and events, and consulting with an agronomy or company rep. They all have great ideas, but some will make more sense to you than others. And some of you will need to prove them yourself first and there’s no better opportunity than the Yield Challenge to satisfy that curiosity.

There are no limits to what you can test except for genetics, which aren’t allowed. There are already plenty of variety trials and the Yield Challenge is about adopting better management practices. You can test the following:

  • Tillage vs. no-till vs. strip till
  • Planting (date, row spacing, timing)
  • Conventional fertilizers (starters; base nutrients like N, P, K, S; micros; top-dressing; foliar feeding)
  • Crop protection (seed, foliar control of diseases and insects)
  • Biologicals (soil or foliar applied and inoculants)
  • PGRs (plant growth regulator and other stimulants)

And there is no limit to what you can package together. While you might want to limit yourself to 1 or 2 practices for the side-by-side contest to measure true gain, in the Yield Challenge you can package as few or as many practices as you desire. Most corn and soybean yield contest winners do just that—assemble both a team of people and list of products and practices to achieve their objective.

And many of the repeat contest winners have been competing for the highest yield for from a few to many years. Learning how to break national records take time and knowledge, learning how your soils perform, and what are the best practices to assemble to reach those goals.

The Illinois Yield Challenge has a history of working with sponsor companies and agronomists who have a range of ideas and products, and are willing to coach you in your quest to improve soybean yield. If you are looking for ideas to test contact the companies and individuals included in this list. They welcome the opportunity to share their ideas.

Agronomist Daniel Davidson, Ph.D. posts blogs on agronomy-related topics. Feel free to contact him at

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About the Author: Dan Davidson

Soybean agronomist Daniel Davidson, Ph.D., posts blogs on topics related to soybean agronomy. Feel free to contact him at or ring him at 402-649-5919.