​TAPS Participants from Upper Big Blue NRD Win Award

​TAPS Participants from Upper Big Blue NRD Win Award

Wednesday, February 3, 2021
The M&M’s Team, a group of producers and an extension educator from the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District, earned one of the top awards for the sprinkler corn competition in the 2020 Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS) program. The group made up of Jerry Stahr, Jenny Rees, Ron Makovicka and Stuart Spader won the Highest Input Use Efficiency accolade in this year’s contest.

Rees is an extension educator in York and Makovicka, Spader, and Stahr are producers in the York/Waco area. The team won $1,000 for their efforts.

The TAPS program is an interactive farm management competition bringing together scientists, producers, industry professionals, students and more to promote efficiency and profitability. The competition, developed by University of Nebraska research and extension specialists and educators, just completed its fourth year and is preparing to begin its fifth year. Rather than a typical learning environment, participants interact in real life farm management competitions administered in North Platte, NE at the West Central Research, Extension and Education Center.

The program, which started with just sprinkler irrigated corn has expanded to include a subsurface drip irrigated (SDI) corn competition and a sprinkler sorghum competition. There were 55 teams, with over 140 participants from across Nebraska, as well as from Colorado and Kansas, this year.

Each team was randomly assigned a set of three experiment sized plots, totaling about one half of an acre. The yields and costs from each “farm” were amplified to 3,000 harvested acres to be more representative of a modern farm size. Participants had control over six parameters: irrigation management, nitrogen management, hybrid selection, seeding rate, grain marketing and crop insurance. To learn about the decisions made and their outcomes please visit the TAPS website.

The 2020 competitions concluded with a virtual awards ceremony in mid-January, where the awards were announced for the top “farms” in three categories including greatest grain yield, highest input use efficiency and the most profitable farm for each competition.

This was the third year of competing in the TAPS program for most members of the M&M’s group. Ron Makovicka, one of the team members said that the interaction between their group is his favorite part. He said the program has been “tremendous for his operation” as he has been able to gain perspective from other people and gain trust in “remote decision making”. Makovicka has even added some remote technology to his own operation.

The 2021 program will kick off the end of March and will feature the sprinkler irrigated and SDI corn contests as well as a sorghum competition. Anyone interested in participating in the 2021 TAPS competitions can email Krystle Rhoades, TAPS Program Manager, at taps@unl.edu.