Crop Scouting Competition for Iowa Youth 2024


The Iowa State University Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program and Iowa 4-H are pleased to announce the 2024 Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition. Middle school and high school students (those completing grades 7-12) from Iowa are invited to compete and showcase crop scouting abilities in corn and soybean. At this anual event, teams work with with Iowa State University faculty and staff and industry professionals to identify corn and soybean problems in the field. Top teams win prizes and advance to the regional competition. All participants will have a fun field experience at the Field Extension Education Laboratory and get a free t-shirt.

Sponsors this year include Corteva Agriscience, Iowa 4-H Foundation, Bayer, United Soybean Board, Syngenta, Iowa Independent Crop Consultants Association, Iowa Certified Crop Advisors, ISU Integrated Pest Management Program, Iowa Soybean Research Center, and Environmental Tillage Systems.

Registration: Check back later for registration details!

Date of Event: July 25, 2024

Registration Deadline: July 1, 2024 (or until we are full)

Location: Field Extension Education Laboratory, Boone, IA

Time: Registration begins at 8am. Competition starts at 8:30 a.m and will end by 3:30 p.m.

Purpose: To provide students an opportunity to learn crop scouting and principles of IPM for corn and soybean and to obtain knowledge and skills helpful in future careers related to agricultural and environmental sciences.

Prizes: $500 for 1st, $300 for 2nd, $150 for 3rd, $50 for 4th.  The top two teams from Iowa will be invited to attend the Regional Crop Scouting Competition in September at the University of Minnesota. 

Coaches: Each 2-5 person team is to be led and accompanied by an adult coach. Teams should work with their coach to train on a regular basis before the competition. Past coaches have been FFA or agriculture teachers, seed dealers, coop employees, and others. No more than 3 teams per sponsoring organization (company, school, club). NEW THIS YEAR: A "Guide for Coaches" is now available. This short guide provides detailed information about the competition and tips for preparing for the competition. We hope this will be a useful reference especially for new teams. As it is a new resource we appreciate your feedback on the guide and what could be improved. guide_for_coaches.docx

Content Topics Teams are Tested on: Teams will be expected to know the basics of IPM and scouting corn and soybean fields. Topics include identification and management of diseases, insects, weeds, and disorders; corn and soybean plant growth stages and plant parts; degree day computation; cover crops and other crops grown in Iowa, and responsible pesticide use including pesticide resistance, sprayer calibration, and reading pesticide labels. A list of station topics and specific station learning goals will be sent to registered teams and is listed in the Guide for Coaches.

Competition Format and Scoring: During the competition, teams will particpate in actvities at multiple field stations. Youth work as a team to answer questions and demonstrate field skills as asked by station judges. Participation and teamwork of all team members will be part of the scoring process, to ensure each individual is contributing.  Points will be awarded for professionalism. Youth should be prepared to interact with judges in a professional manner including introducing themselves and speaking clearly. There will also be a written exam.

Participation/Permission/Medical Release form: All participants must have a permission form completed and turned in prior to attending the event. These will be sent to teams once they have registered.

Free set of field guides: Please indicate in your registration if your team would like to receive a free set of field guides. Unfortunately, the ISU pest field guides are currently out of print so we will not have the spiral bound pocket guides this year. Instead, we can send each team either 1) an 8.5X11 version printed on standard paper or 2) and electronic PDF version. We can provide one per team before the competition for you to use for study and practice.

scouting soybean plants during the crop scouting competition

Online study materials: There are number of resources that can be used to help prepare students for the competition. 

IPM Curriculum

One of these resources, a 14-part IPM curriculum covering a variety of topics, can be downloaded from the shared folder: Each presentation is available in both PDF and PowerPoint formats and includes notes. These educational materials are for use in school or post-secondary agricultural classrooms, or anywhere there is a need for such materials including at home or on the farm. Please do not remove copyright marks.We would like to thank our generous sponsors who make this project possible: Corteva, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Independent Crop Consultants Association, ScoutPro, Iowa Certified Crop Advisors, and Environmental Tillage Systems.

Agronomist Presentations

Iowa State University State Agronomists have created presentations on scouting and pest management topics for our youth participants. See links belows.

General Scouting Tips – Warren Pierson - Crop Scouting Tips Presentation

Disorders – Angie Rieck-Hinz - Disorders Presentation

Weeds – Meaghan Anderson - Weed presentation (you might also want to check out the new "Weekly Weed Watch" videos)

Insects – Terry Basol - Insect Pest Presentation

Diseases – Rebecca Vittetoe - favorable_disease_conditions.pptx and corn_and_soybean_disease_table_by_growth_stage.pdf

Pesticide Sprayer Information

Teejet catalogue, pages 184-194 

Cover Crops Study Materials

Cover crops basics: Cover Crops in Iowa Quick Guide — Iowa Learning Farms and

The Midwest Cover Crops website has descriptions and some photos of cover crop species: with links to more information in the SARE “Managing Cover Crops Profitably” guide

Study Guide

Example questions for each station to practice: study_guide.docx

Crops Feed the World Online Lessons

For learning some basic knowledge on crop production and pest management you can use the online interactive lessons available for free from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Moodle. For more information on lesson topics and how to access them, visit the Crops Feed the World Website

Crop Scouting Educational Resources Page

Check out the Crop Scouting Educational Resources page from ISU IPM for more great resources on crop scouting.

ISU IPM Youtube Channel

Check out the ISU IPM Youtube Channel for videos related to pest management and scouting. In particular, you might want to try the playlists for "Weekly Weed Watch," "Soybean Diseases," "Corn Diseases," and "Entomology."

Flyer: 2023_crop_scouting_competition_flyer.pdf

Social Media Post:

For questions, email Maya Hayslett,