Crop Production

ISU Extension and Outreach Offers Field Crop Scout School, March 25: A Field Crop Scout School designed for beginning crop scouts will be held Saturday, March 25, at the Scheman Building in Ames. The day-long course features sessions on crop growth and development, scouting methods and techniques, and identification of weeds, diseases and insects.


CSI: Crops - State 4-H Conference

What's it all about? Find out in the video below!

Are You Into It?Iowa Soybean Field

Get your hands dirty in Crop Production! Find out how soils, bugs, beetles and more affect your crops. Whether it’s corn, soybeans, wheat, hay or silage, 4-H crop production is for you!

  • Learn how soil, seeds, weather, pests, and fertilizer affect field crops
  • Learn the value and uses of field crops
  • Learn how new technology can change the way field crops are grown
  • Keep records of crop production

Here’s what you can do all year!

Starting Out Basic / Level 1

  • Plant something and watch it grow
  • Find differences when you: plant seeds in different soils, use different fertilizers and control weeds & pests
  • Identify what helps plants grow, and what’s harmful to them
  • Go through the interactive CD “Soybean and Corn” available through Extension Distribution

Learning More Intermediate / Level 2

  • Take a soil sample
  • Calculate growing degree days
  • Scout fields for growing conditions
  • Discover products that are made from field crops
  • Protecting your plants from pests
  • Decide what varieties of crops to plant and at what time
  • Learn soil and nutrient requirements

Expanding Horizons Advanced / Level 3

  • Manage your own crops based on Integrated Crop Management principles
  • Explore career opportunities related to crop production
  • Calculate harvest losses and their causes
  • Calculate expenses and incomes to determine the profitability of field crops
  • Identify how new technology impacts crop production

Keep it up! 

Get a jump-start on your projects!

  • Take a look at the weeds and insects that were a problem in your area last year and come up with a plan  to prevent it happening again this year.
  • Create a soil map of your family or a neighbor's farm.  How does the soil change throughout and what can you do to manage that change?

Take It Further

Crop Production Hot Sheet 
(color pdf)
Poster Exhibits Tip Sheet
(color  pdf)
Exhibitor Fair Information Form
(Word or editable PDF)
Exhibit Evaluation Form (pdf)

Step It Up

Pass it on! Now that you know how, share it with others. Here are ideas to get you started.

  • Show your group the difference between a healthy plant and a sick one, and tell how that happens.
  • Do a presentation on sampling soil.
  • Develop a journal with the details of the fields you scout.
  • Present on the insects that are beneficial and pests to crops (visit the 4-H Entomology page).
  • Demonstrate how to use precision agriculture technology and its importance.


  • Complete a Service Learning project
  • Help teach others about farm safety.
  • Join and participate in a farm commodity association.
  • Organize and lead an appreciation event for farmers during harvest.
  • Assist your neighbor in scouting fields for diseases and insects.


  • Create farm safety rules for your family and share with others.
  • Plan a tour of a seed corn plant for your group.
  • Develop a “harvest loss frame” and use it to help other farmers calculate their harvest losses.

Explore Crop Production

Job-shadow at a local business in a career that interests you
Attend adult Pesticide Applicator Training or Crop Advantage workshops at your county Iowa State University Extension office
Organize a fundraiser that plants and markets a crop, donating proceeds to a worthy cause
Attend Iowa 4-H Youth Conference and participate in CSI: Crops and other workshops, motivational speakers and a community service project, bringing ideas back to your community
Is it fair time? Consider taking an exhibit, a piece of your project learning to the fair for judging and to show off what you have learned throughout the year. It might get selected to go to the Iowa State Fair.
Contact your County Extension office for other local workshops, activities, and events
Meet others interested in crop production. Check out camps at the Iowa 4-H Center.
Interested in a college education in the area of crop production? Schedule a visit with Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to explore majors.

Exhibit Ideas

Create a booklet of different uses of corn and soybeans
Make a poster with a diagram of cut-off corn stalks and show the growing point
Keep a journal of your plants, recording rainfall and other weather data, fertilizer and pesticide application, hybrid variety selection and other factors that influence the growth and development of your crop
Produce a video about the role of legumes in fixing nitrogen in the soil
Create soil maps of a farm and demonstrate different properties such as soil types, drainage, CSR, and slope.  (For a program to create soil maps, visit the USDA Web Soil Survey page.)
Create a display showing potential safety hazards on a farm. Educate others on ways to prevent these hazards
Design a poster to teach others about the information provided on seed labels
Develop a field map showing the locations you checked for stand counts, and explain possible reasons for differences
Create a photo journal of actual crop fields with or without a lot of weed competition
Give an educational presentation on resources that are available to help in conservation planning
Create a display or educational presentation comparing the financial risk associated with different types of financial agreements
Follow commodity markets for a month.  Record the change in prices.  Create a chart to show the changes prices and how it would change a decision to purchase or sell.
Discuss farm conservation practices with the ISU Extension or FSA Staff in your county and report your findings.
Develop a journal of common diseases, insects, and other problems found in your area while crop scouting.
Visit the 4-H Crops Project Manual for more ideas for great 4-H crop project, exhibit, and activity ideas!

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