A farm-management competition that was developed in North Platte has received an $850,000 grant to continue.
The Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS) program received a Conservation Innovation Grant award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service.
The TAPS program, launched in 2017 at the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, was developed by UNL research and extension specialists.
The program facilitates interactive, real-life farm-management competitions for Husker scientists, extension professionals, producers, industry leaders, agriculture students, government regulators, agency personnel and others.
Participants control a plot of land and test their agricultural strategies and technologies during the competition. Afterward, they can access data from throughout the competitions.
Since the program started, it has expanded to include subsurface drip-irrigated corn and sprinkler-irrigated sorghum competitions, in addition to sprinkler-irrigated corn competition.
In 2019, a new TAPS program, in cooperation with Oklahoma State University, hosted its first sprinkler-irrigated corn competition at OSU’s McCaull Research and Demonstration Farm near Eva, Okla.
The TAPS team will use the grant funds over the next three years to support ongoing development of competitions in Nebraska and Oklahoma, while expanding knowledge-sharing and engagement by producers, extension educators, technology companies and service providers in other states, including Colorado and Kansas.
“The genius of the TAPS program is the fact that most of the time, it’s not extension or companies evaluating products and telling farmers about them; it’s farmers engaged in evaluation,” said Jason Warren, director of the OSU TAPS program. “If something doesn’t work right, they see it. Then we can work with service providers to make it better.”
TAPS received one of 19 Conservation Innovation Grants awarded this year.
The Conservation Innovation Grants program is funding the future of agriculture and conservation through grants to organizations and universities that are developing the next generation of tools and technologies to boost conservation.
“We are funding innovation,” said Matthew Lohr, Natural Resource Conservation Service chief. “These projects are tackling some of our most critical challenges head-on and will result in new science-based tools for our toolbox and cutting-edge systems we can use to help farmers and ranchers improve the health of their operations and protect our natural resources for the future.”
By Krystle Rhoades, TAPS Program Manager