While equipment manufacturers, dealers, crop advisors and other specialists work to solve the current puzzles of meeting the 300-bushel challenge, they also need to keep an eye on potential future roadblocks such as the following.

Water. Jeff Schick, global director of the ag and forestry market segment for Eaton Corp., says with increasing water requirements for ethanol and livestock production, fresh water may be in short supply. This could become a limiting factor in reaching 300-bushel corn. He says water usage around the world is growing twice as fast as population.

Regulatory Issues. Court challenges to biotechnology in the U.S. have Gary Schnitkey, Univ. of Illinois professor of farm management, concerned that regulatory issues may hold up yield advances.

“The ability to introduce new technology and chemicals that help drive yield increases may be a challenge in the United States,” he says. “Some people do not like biotechnology and that may mean that the United States isn’t a favorable place to introduce these technologies.”

Trusted Research. Industry experts and university sources note the decline in research as a problem for moving forward both technologically and in crop yields.

“Third-party research is important. Consumers view company-funded research as biased, which could limit their adoption of technology,” says Randall Reeder, Ohio State Univ. extension agricultural engineer. “The push since the 1980s has been on environmental issues. Federal funding is now based on environmental issues and I don’t think that strategy will get us the next 100 bushels of yield.”

Disconnect. Lack of collaboration between industries could delay advances in yield. “From the machinery side, sometimes we’re in a position where others create new products and assume the machinery is there to apply it properly,” Reeder says. “We need to collaborate more to move things along efficiently.”

Technology Disaster. “We are at the mercy of technology,” warns Nyle Wollenhaupt, AGCO senior agronomist. “If a solar flare takes out satellites, our guidance technology is worthless. We should always be thinking about alternative solutions as we develop new technologies.”