TAPS Program Kickstarts 2023 Competition Season
After being postponed from the original date due to a spring storm, the Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS) program hosted its 2023 Kickoff Event on March 21, 2023, in Doniphan, Nebraska.
Approximately 40 attendees gathered for a tour of the Corteva Agriscience production facility just south of Doniphan, beginning at 4 p.m. Much was learned about Corteva as a company, their westernmost production facility located in Doniphan, and their processes in the production of seed corn. The TAPS group was split into two smaller groups and then taken on a detailed tour of the facility, which processes the seed corn from on-the-ear harvest stage to packaging. Harvest is completed when corn is still at 35% to 37% moisture and delivered to the plant by producers that are mainly within a 45-mile radius of the plant. The facility can hold about a million bushels onsite, but around 1.5 million bags of seed corn are processed in a year.
Attendees learned about the drying process and the science behind taking the product from the on-ear intake to the 12.5% moisture final seed corn product. Although the facility isn’t in production at this time of year, (so participants weren’t able to see the facility in full operation), the guides talked about the robotics, conveyors, drying units, and other technology that is used to facilitate the process. The TAPS program greatly appreciated the opportunity to tour the plant and offer this educational aspect to participants during the seasonal kickoff event.
Afterward, tour participants regrouped with other attendees, totaling nearly 60 people, at the Doniphan Event Center for dinner and the official kickoff of the 2023 TAPS competitions, which include sprinkler corn, subsurface drip irrigated (SDI) corn, and sorghum. Changes to these competitions this year include the moving of the sorghum competition plots to the Stumpf International Wheat Center in Grant, Nebraska, and the addition of cover crops to the pivot field in the offseason, although this will not require additional participant decision-making, just an awareness, as this may cause a reconsideration of best management practices for competitors. Additionally, participants were introduced to the new web platform, where they will submit their management decisions.
A number of partnering technology companies, as well as seed dealer representatives, were on hand at the kickoff to visit with participants about the opportunities that they will have to use their products and platforms in the 2023 competition.
“The kickoff event is always one of mixed emotions for attendees, as you have the new participants that are entering with eager anticipation to get started, but also the past competitors that are attending to learn what has changed, as well as continue to network and build the peer-to-peer relationships that TAPS prides itself on,” said TAPS Program Manager Krystle Rhoades.
The first-year Popcorn TAPS Competition, sponsored by Zangger Popcorn Hybrids, held a separate kickoff event remotely on March 28. The eight competitors hail from Nebraska and a couple of other states, as well as one international participant from France. Participants in this competition will make slightly different decisions than the sprinkler corn participants, although held in the same field.
With the kickoffs for the competitions held at the West Central Research, Extension and Education Center (WCREEC) in North Platte and the Stumpf International Wheat Center in Grant, Nebraska, now in the history books, participants are busy setting up their online TAPS portals, researching and making their first decisions of the 2023 season. The TAPS team is greatly looking forward to this seventh year of farm management competitions.