TAPS Program Benefits a Large Range of People

TAPS Program Benefits a Large Range of People

The Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS) program provides a touchstone where ideas and people can observe and use new ideas, test conventional wisdom, and discover better ways to do business in an environment of friendly competition. Over 150 participants, of different demographics, careers, and farming theories, took advantage of those opportunities in the three 2019 TAPS farm management competitions. TAPS is now looking for those with an interest in participating in the 2020 competitions.

The 2019 competitions held in North Platte at the West Central Research, Extension, and Education Center had participants from four states, which was more than in years past when most contestants hailed from Nebraska or Kansas.

Of course, a good portion of the competitors are producers that use the competition to test new technology or theories without the risk of doing so on their own operation. For producer Ron Robinson, from Alma, Nebraska, it was a chance to compare his operation and sorghum management decisions to those of other producers. It’s kind of like a “report card for your farm”, he suggested.

For another team, the idea all started at the local coffee shop in Grant, Nebraska. The group of local producers formed a team, each with their area of expertise, and have not only learned from the TAPS experience but also each other as they discussed and decided on their management decisions for their plot. “The team approach based on different growers’ experiences proved to be the most valuable as it gave the project a reasonable balance on what could be expected,” Ted Tietjen, Perkins Group team leader, commented.

For Ron Makovicka “this was an opportunity” with adding a son, Brad, to the operation to let him make the decisions on a farm that they were neither one familiar with. The first year the father-son duo competed together along with a group of others from the York, Nebraska area. In 2019 though, the Makovica’s each joined separate teams competing against each other to test their theories and methods in a friendly competition.

It’s not just current producers that are using the program to learn from, but collegiate teams are also using the program as lessons for the future producers. “TAPS has been one of the best tools to use in the classroom and lessons learned from this extensive exercise will be followed to the students’ homes for their own operations,” Andy Bartlett, a Northeastern Junior College professor commented.

In 2019, several teams were led by extension educators across the state including two from the Beatrice, Nebraska area who made it a friendly competition between themselves. Their groups included producers, seed representatives, insurance salesman, among others. These teams set up with multiple people, each with their own area of expertise, not only allows the members to learn from the competition itself but also each other.

The 2020 competitions are in the development stage and participants are being sought for the line-up of contests this year which includes sprinkler irrigated corn, subsurface drip-irrigated corn and sprinkler irrigated sorghum. These contests will once again be hosted at the UNL West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, Nebraska.

The second annual sprinkler corn competition will also be held at the McCaull Research and Demonstration Farm in Eva, Oklahoma, in cooperation with Oklahoma State University.

If you would like more information or are interested in participating in any of the TAPS competitions in 2020, please email krystle.rhoades@unl.edu.