Wheat growers have better tools for entering national yield contest

tracks from a piece of ag equipment in a wheat field with a clouded blue sky


The National Wheat Foundation annually hosts the National Wheat Yield Contest, encouraging growers across the United States to compete with their peers for recognition (and prizes) when achieving the top marks for a high-yield, high-quality harvest. The contest is the prime outreach activity for the non-profit Foundation, which aims to advance the domestic wheat industry. “We feel that the contest helps us educate growers and others in the wheat industry that high yield and high quality and better profit are possible. The contest helps us show it’s possible, and here’s how these folks are doing it,” says Anne Osborne, project manager for the National Wheat Foundation.


  • UX research
  • UI design
  • Engineering


The challenge: An outdated, hard-to-use application

Since its start in 2016, the Foundation has run the contest through a web application. Growers create a log-in and must enter the competition each year. The first step in the spring is completing that year’s entry form, which asks for basic information about the grower and their operation. Then, in late summer and early fall, the grower must share data about their winter or spring wheat harvest. Judges recruited by the Foundation then evaluate the data to determine national and state winners, which are announced in October.

While the process is simple, the growers must collect and input a lot of data for the contest entry and the harvest data submission. In the fall of 2023, Pixo began working with the Foundation to create a new replacement web application to address these pain points:

  • A clunky user interface that resulted in user submissions with incomplete or incorrect information. The app did not smartly validate user inputs nor offer guidance via labels, descriptions, and help text to assist growers when adding their data. It did not have a modern, progressive feel.
  • A ton of legwork by the one Foundation employee in charge of the contest. The lack of clarity in the user interface created extra work for the Foundation staff members, who had to scrutinize all entries, contact growers for information, and answer questions from people needing clarification on the forms.
  • Lack of reports. The old software limited tools for generating data reports. Usually, data had to be exported to an Excel spreadsheet and manipulated in Excel. Staff needed to export from Excel constantly to retrieve information about the status of the current year’s contests and share data more widely in the Foundation, state organizations, and with judges. Also, the old system did not preserve the data from previous contest years, making multi-year reporting impossible.
  • A poor workflow for partner support. An additional aspect of the contest is that growers can have their entry fee paid for by a contest partner — such as a seed company or ag service provider. The old app did not make managing the supply of available contest fee vouchers easy for Foundation staff to manage.

The solution: Understanding user needs led to an intuitive new app

The National Wheat Foundation came to Pixo looking for a more collaborative, communicative partner to modernize and improve the contest app. By working closely with Foundation staff and listening to wheat growers about their needs and pain points, Pixo built a new bespoke web application for the Foundation. 

We started with the user experience for the Foundation staff members and growers with interviews and walk-throughs of the old app. We modeled all the data required for contest entry and harvest information and built a new SQL database. With wireframes and design mockups done, the new ASP.NET app began to take shape. 

The new app includes a dashboard for growers and completely redesigned entry and harvest data form pages. The Pixo team focused on making the data input as clear and hassle-free as possible, reducing the time needed to complete the forms and improving the accuracy of the data submitted. And, of course, the app is responsive, allowing growers to input information using whatever device is handy. The Foundation staff also got a new interface with specific screens for monitoring the pace of entries and data submission, better support for partner vouchers and payments, and more advanced reporting tools that provide quick access to frequently used reports and export of all the data.

Screenshot of a dashboard that shows in progress uploads
Grower dashboard.

The result: Efficiencies for growers and staff

Launched at the end of February, the new app has received positive feedback, with growers saying it’s easier to use and the Foundation reporting that it’s saving time. The staff time savings come from an easier way to monitor entries in the system, fewer manual corrections of entries, more advanced reporting, and better support for partner vouchers. 

“I have time to do more of the work to tell our story, encourage more people to enter the contest.” — Anne Osborne, project manager for the National Wheat Foundation

As the year goes on, we’ll be monitoring the app’s performance through the entry deadline in mid-May and submission of harvest data in August and September. We expect to continue to enhance and improve the app as we learn more about how we can create efficiencies and accommodate annual changes in the contest rules. We are committed to helping the Foundation further its goals of educating and encouraging wheat growers to achieve high-yield, high-quality harvests.

Screenshot of a tool built for the National Wheat Yield Contest that shows in progress entries
The administrator’s report dashboard.

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