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 soybean practices? Well the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) has a challenge that will meet your interests.

ISA has been sponsoring the Yield Challenge since 2010. Over the last five years a thousand farmers in Illinois have entered the side-by-side yield challenge to test whether better technology will improve their yields. We have seen yield gains anywhere from 0.5 to 30 bushels per acre. Of course as with any trial, sometimes yields are equal or even less. That is the nature of science. But many of these growers and their sponsors have proven to themselves that technology works and pays, and have adopted it to more of their acres. To recognize the growers and the success, ISA awards a first and second place for the greatest yield gain in each of the state’s nine crop districts (ASDs or Agricultural Statistical Districts). And first and second place winners receive $500 and $250, respectively.

Then in 2014, ISA started the 100 Bushel Challenge and offered a $5,000 award to the grower who had the highest yield over 100 bushels. If you remember 2014 was a good season for soybeans, with cooler weather and abundant moisture in August, which is a harbinger for high yield. Last September ISA had 36 plots across 25 growers entered in the 100 Bushel Challenge and we had to gear up to verify yields over 100 bushels using an official protocol that mimics what the NCGA uses for contests. And Dan Arkels from LaSalle County took home the prize for 103.9 bushels per acre, with other plots coming in at 70 and 80 bushels per acre.

As we move into 2015 ISA has more to offer. You can still enter the traditional side-by-side Yield Challenge and see how a practice or group of technologies improves yield over your standard practice. Team up with a retailer as a sponsor, test some ideas and share the results with other growers by entering the Yield Challenge, and compete for a first or second place award of $500 or $250 and recognition, respectively.

If you want to try new ideas in a contest setting rather than a side-by-side you can enter the district shootout. Work with your retailer or another agronomist and design your dream set of best management practices to apply to a soybean plot. You can share the results with other growers by entering the Yield Challenge shootout and compete for a first or second place award of $500 or $250 and recognition, respectively.

Lastly if you want to break the bank, go for 100 bushels and compete for $5,000 by entering in ISA’s statewide 100 Bushel Challenge.

Through the Yield Challenge, ISA likes to share what farmers are doing to increase soybean yield. Enter the Yield Challenge in 2015 and help us teach other Illinois producers how to produce high yield soybeans.

For more information click on the link or contact Jim Nelson, the Yield Challenge marketing coordinator. Mr. Nelson can be reached at 309-825-7542 or

Agronomist Dr. Daniel Davidson 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.