UNL-TAPS Expanding To Include Winter Wheat Competition in the Panhandle

Field of wheat in the Nebraska Panhandle
Winter wheat production in the Nebraska Panhandle is being added to the next round of UNL-TAPS competitions. (Photo by Cody Creech)

UNL-TAPS Expanding To Include Winter Wheat Competition in the Panhandle

The successful UNL Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS) program based in North Platte is once again expanding with a new competition. The new contest will be established and conducted at the High Plains Ag Lab (HPAL) near Sidney and will feature winter wheat.

Similar to the other four TAPS competitions, cash awards will be given for 1) most profitable, 2) highest input use efficiency, and 3) greatest grain yield. Twenty teams will be able to compete, not only against each other but against University faculty. Each team will be assigned a farm, which is comprised of a set of five randomized plots which HPAL personnel will manage.

Participants will make several farm management decisions as they would on a real Nebraska Panhandle wheat farm. These decisions include crop insurance, variety, seeding rate, nutrient management, fungicide treatment options, and grain marketing. All other management decisions will be fixed by the University and be the same for all farms.

The decisions will be submitted through the official website (www.taps.unl.edu), where in-season plot photos, crop updates, and other data and resources will be provided to the contestants.

Each competitor will have an opportunity to use innovative technology, test new methods, become more aware of what drives profit on their farm, as well as share the wealth of their knowledge.

At the recent Water and Crops Field Day at the West Central Research and Extension Center, Extension Irrigation Specialist Daran Rudnick provides an in-season update on what growers are testing in this year's UNL-TAPS competition. For more on this year's contests, see what participating growers discussed during a panel discussion.

The competition will debut at a kickoff meeting Friday, September 6, at the High Plains Ag Lab near Sidney. This formal meeting will allow HPAL personnel and contestants to discuss the mechanics of competing.

In-season field tours and meetings will be held at HPAL before the contest concludes in August 2020 with an awards banquet.

Cody Creech, UNL Dryland Cropping Systems Specialist, is one of the innovators of the new competition. He says he is most looking forward to “the peer-to-peer learning that will occur as participants and outside observers discuss the choices and strategies teams used in the competition.”

This new competition is made possible with the support of and partial funding from the Nebraska Wheat Board.

The TAPS program was started in North Platte three years ago as a unique and innovative farm management competition focused on irrigated corn. In the past three years due to strong support from partners and sponsors the program has grown to include four contests this year. They include pivot-irrigated corn, subsurface drip-irrigated corn, and pivot-irrigated sorghum contests at the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, and an irrigated corn competition in Guymon, Oklahoma in partnership with Oklahoma State University.

If you are interested in competing in the inaugural winter wheat competition or sponsoring the contest, please contact Krystle Rhoades, program coordinator, at krystle.rhoades@unl.edu.