No. 1 Article 7/March 26, 2010

You Can Still Get In On the Soybean Yield Challenge

The Illinois Soybean Association is launching a yield challenge to encourage statewide on-farm research and innovation to increase soybean yields. We know that farmers are extremely innovative and can find things that work best for their farming operations by continually trying new ideas. The Illinois Soybean Yield Challenge is unique to a yield contest because each on-farm participant will pair an "investigative" plot with a "normal practices" plot.

With much cooperation from the Illinois Soybean Association, the National Soybean Research Laboratory, and U of I Department of Crop Sciences faculty, along with other Illinois universities and community colleges, we are striving to build a unique, systematic way to harness the power of on-farm research to improve soybean yields through teamwork in Illinois.

All competitive yields will be an average from several farmer participants, and yield challenge teams will be grouped according to the nine USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) crop reporting districts in Illinois. The categorization negates some of the advantages and disadvantages of different soil types and environments and lets us compare yields with USDA NASS crop reports. No overall state winners will be named.

Teams can be sponsored by any type of company or they can form independently, but I hope that many different sectors of agriculture production will get involved, since different sectors are advancing technology and products in ways that should enhance yield or improve the ability to manage soybeans. This challenge could play an important role in science by providing us questions to ask in other controlled experiments. We hope to validate these generated questions with further research and refine those into recommendations from which all Illinois farmers can benefit.

It is not too late to participate this year. The deadline has been extended to April 15, which means more time for making decisions about what and when to plant. And you have the opportunity to attend one of three training and information sessions next week! Each session will be held from 8:30 to noon, and refreshments will be served:

Come learn how you can benefit from the Illinois Soybean Yield Challenge! You will also get hands-on web training and learn how to enter plot data throughout the growing season.

If you want more information, go to www.soyyieldchallenge.com, contact Jim Nelson (seedsolutions@comcast.net), call the ISA office (309-663-7692), or e-mail me (davisv@illinois.edu).--Vince Davis

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