Iowa Farmer Wins the Grand Prize in the Real Yield Game

Monday, May 16, 2016
By: Malin Westfall, Crop Science, a Division of Bayer, Marketing Manager
LibertyLink and the pursuit of real crop yields

The LibertyLink Real Yield Game has generated a lot of buzz since it launched in September of 2015. Thousands played and shared the game with their friends and social networks, and we’ve met and talked to winners all over the country. Our growers have shared their excitement about winning and their plans for their LibertyLink system prize. Unsurprisingly, the grand prize winner hails from the state that also had the most plays. Iowa received nearly 1/5 of all Real Yield Game plays, and will now be the home state of a brand new tractor, furnished by John Deere. We sat down with Rick Juchems of Butler County, Iowa to learn more about his farm, his life, and his plans for his brand new tractor.

Rick Juchems grew up on a farm in Grundy Country and now runs a 50/50 corn and soybean rotation with 2,400 hogs on feed. After attending school in South Dakota, Juchems came back to Iowa and started working on his father-in-law’s farm in 1978. Conservation has been his passion ever since – “I’ve been trying to get people to grow cover crops, reduce soil erosion, put in waterways, filter strips, anything that we can do to clean up the water as it’s leaving your property.” His biggest challenge is the weed resistance that’s been popping up lately, and it’s becoming more of a problem when growers want to continue using the same chemicals year after year. He’s looking forward to changing his chemistry and using Liberty in his LibertyLink soybeans, saying “[it] would help with the situation as being able to use a different chemical and not be consistently using the same chemical”

During the off-season, Juchems is focused on spending time with his grandchildren, as well as marketing and selling the crops he’s worked hard to harvest throughout the year. Planning is also very important once harvest is done. “The planning that goes into the next year’s crop starts at harvest for me because then I’ll know what crops and hybrids work on my farm. I have a crop scout that I’ve hired that does a lot that for me, and I rely on them a lot for my chemical and fertilizer application requirements.” Declining commodity prices are affecting his planning process as well, with Juchems saying it’ll be a rough season since both inputs for chemicals and seed have stayed constant. In addition to planning what seeds, chemicals and fertilizers to use, he’s building up his soil with the help of the hogs on the farm. He uses a lot of the organic matter produced by the hogs which is spread on the field at a manure management plan rate, and provides the nutrients needed for the growing crop.

Juchems heard about the Real Yield Game through FFA. Iowa State FFA publicized the game, asking growers to play because it benefited their state organization. Each play would correspond to a dollar amount donated to the state FFA. The organization means a lot to him and his family, as Juchems’ two children have both been past presidents of the local chapter and held state office, so he was motivated to play the game. Juchems played one time before heading out to his LibertyLink fields to spray them with Liberty. He happened to be the Grand Prize winner, which meant he would receive a 1-year lease of a John Deere tractor.

Rick Juchems, LibertyLink Real Yield Game Winner

Still, it took a while for him to realize he had won. “It was one of those things where it’s almost too good to be true only playing it one time and you’re the grand prize winner.” After a trip to Commodity Classic representing the Real Yield Game, Juchems had an opportunity to visit the John Deere facility with the “gold key treatment”, a walking tour of the assembly plant. The tractor, which is built to his custom specifications, will be working hard this year. Juchems plans to use his new machine to level out the fields and drill LibertyLink beans, and to haul loads of real yield into town during harvest. He’s hoping to put up to 300 hours on it, and he couldn’t be happier about it.

With planting season fast approaching, we’re excited to see how our winners will use their Real Yield Game prizes to achieve real yields. Leave us a note in the comments or give us a shout at @Bayer4CropsUS on Twitter.

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