It’s been another challenging crop year–and a compelling reason to consider new technologies and ideas. In a five mile radius from where I live in Normal, Illinois, you can view fields that were not yet planted on July 1st alongside outstanding lush crops next to fields under severe stress caused by record rainfall. Some recent price rallies have restored a measure of enthusiasm in commodities, but growers are adjusting to prices far different than recent seasons. Black ink may seem harder to insure, but that is exactly why this season is not the time to regress in adopting new crop ideas. Every year will be different and every year presents new opportunities for learning and growth. This may be the perfect year for you to test new technologies through the Illinois Soybean Yield Challenge. There is still time to register your plots before the September 1st deadline.

Six years ago in the first year of the Yield Challenge, the common comments were about the flat line or “plateau” in soybean yields. Today more growers are disproving that a plateau exists and expecting to continue strong upward trends in yields, much like they expect out of corn. Some of these increases may come from protection products, while other practices and products are investigating biological, hormonal, and fertility programs capitalizing on applied technologies and capturing the genetic potential of modern varieties. Some practices are significantly cutting overall input costs while maintaining and increasing yield levels, so important in today’s price structures.

These advancements may have started with extensive R&D testing by researchers in genetics and crop products, but finally prove acceptance when they show themselves profitable on your farm. Measured risks on selected test acres can pay back large benefits in future seasons and whole fields.

Whether testing side-by-side results for economic payback, or pushing to record yield levels–this may be the year that helps you fuel yields and profits for years to come. There is no better time to test SIDE-BY-SIDE SPONSOR PLOT comparisons or explore the upper opportunities for high yield in the CROP DISTRICT SHOOTOUT or 100 BUSHEL CHALLENGE. Winners in each division qualify for cash awards for highest yield increases, highest district yields, and the highest yield above 100 bushels in the state of Illinois. Time to pocket cash awards to winners along with gaining new knowledge to apply to your soybean program.

To learn move visit or contact Jim Nelson at 309-825-7542 or email at

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About the Author: Jim Nelson