URBANA, Ill. — In a corn or soybean field, knowing how crops are progressing or being able to identify an insect can mean the difference between a profitable harvest and a bad year.
A new crop scouting competition is a one-day on-campus contest in August that challenges teams of students from across the state to test their field scouting knowledge hands-on with agricultural professionals from University of Illinois.
“We’re excited to provide the competition for Illinois students for the first time,” says Chelsea Harbach, University of Illinois Extensioncommercial ag educator. “It will be a challenging, team-building exercise that also gives these future farmers the chance to engage with their peers from around the state, agriculture researchers, and experts.”
Harbach says crop scouting is an important skill for farmers that can help lead to higher yields and increased profit per acre. Scouting gives farmers a heads-up about what is happening in the field with crop growth or insects and weeds. They can then strategically make the best management decisions to treat the issue.
In the competition, teams of students will rotate through stations to test their knowledge on topics including the weeds, insects, and diseases identification, corn and soybean growth stages, abiotic injury, pesticide application, and integrated pest management.
“We want to help students apply what they’ve learned in the classroom with field experience that will give them skills that will be useful for future careers in agriculture and environmental sciences,” Harbach says.
University staff will judge the teams, and the top three teams will win cash prizes. The top two teams will advance to represent Illinois at the Midwestern regional competition.
This is the first time Illinois is participating in the youth Crop Scouting Competition.
The competition will be 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at South Farms corn and soybean fields located at the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center, 4202 South First St., Savoy.
The competition is open to middle and high school students in grades 7-12 who form teams of two to five students. Teams can register for free through July 1 online at go.illinois.edu/CropScouting.
For more information, contact Harbach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— University of Illinois Extension
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