Have you ever wondered if your skills for managing irrigation, hybrid selection, seeding rates, fertilization and marketing are better than your neighbors? This past year, participants in the Testing Ag Performance Solutions, or TAPS, contest held at the West Central Research and Education Center at North Platte got to test this out.
The TAPS contest offered producers an opportunity to compete against each other as well as University of Nebraska-Lincoln specialists and students to see who is the best at producing corn in three categories: most profitably, most efficiently and highest yield. Each team had three replicated plots, where they could pick their own hybrid, seeding rate and irrigation and nitrogen applications, as well as manage their marketing and crop insurance.
At the end of the season, after the results were tallied, eight of the farms were profitable and seven were not. Not surprisingly in a year with low corn prices, marketing was a major factor contributing to the success of the most profitable farm. That farm had a profit of $146.89 per acre, even though it was not the highest-yielding or the lowest-input-cost farm. On the other hand, the least profitable farm had a loss of $153.33 per acre, so management made a difference of over $300 per acre in profitability.
Results indicated efficiency was driven by how well participants irrigated and fertilized. Participants used a range of inputs, from a low of 2.5 inches to upwards of 11 inches of irrigation water and from 150 to 240 pounds per acre of nitrogen.
The highest yield was 260.8 bushels, which was raised on 7 inches of irrigation water and 175 pounds of nitrogen. Interestingly, the check plot, which received no irrigation or nitrogen fertilizer, ended up yielding 177 bushels per acre, which tells you that North Platte had pretty good weather last summer.
If this is something you might be interested in, let us know as we are looking at ways to expand this unique contest in future years to the rest of the state.
On another note, if you are interested in using cover crops, make plans to attend the Nebraska Cover Crop Conference at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead on Thursday, Feb. 15. This popular conference has a great lineup of speakers to help you learn more about using cover crops in your operation. Registration is capped at 275, so please register early if you plan to attend by calling 402-624-8030.
Also, don’t forget the upcoming pesticide training opportunities on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 during the Farm Show, inside the Club Room at Platte County Agricultural Park in Columbus. The Jan. 31 session starts at 1 p.m., while the Feb. 1 session starts at 9:30 a.m.