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SOY program: The smart way to grow soybeans

June 4, 2008

Because of its highly successful inaugural year, the Secure Optimum Yield (SOY) program of the American Soybean Association and BASF returns in 2008, providing growers with yield-boosting production practices.

Last year, SOY program participants boosted their yields by an average of 6.8 bu/A. While this integrated crop protection program is based on the best research available, it still works well with most growers' current on-farm practices, regardless of whether they choose Roundup Ready® or conventional soybeans.

"For busy growers who want to get the most from every acre, the program makes perfect sense," says ASA president John Hoffman. "In my estimation, with higher prices and input costs in 2008, more producers are going to consider the value of intensive crop management practices because they pay off," says Hoffman, who farms near Waterloo, Iowa.

The objective of the program is to increase yield and net profits. And the pillars of the program are equally straightforward.

·        First, stop early-season weeds before they damage yield.

·        Second, reduce the risk of missing the window for the postemergent application by extending the window.

·        Third, reduce the risk of weed resistance or weed shifts.

·        Fourth, enhance disease management and optimize Plant Health.

The use of a BASF herbicide with a residual activity as a burndown is the key to achieving the first three pillars. This approach stops early weed flushes, giving the soybean crop a head start. The residual activity extends the window for the postemergent application while providing a second mode of action (in addition to glyphosate), making it a sound resistance-management practice.

BASF offers four herbicides with residual activity for soybeans: Prowl® H2O herbicide, Pursuit® Plus herbicide, Scepter® herbicide and Extreme® herbicide.

Headline® fungicide is the key to the fourth cornerstone. It not only prevents disease, but it also enables the crop to tolerate stress better and improves growth efficiency. In the more than 1,150 on-farm trials conducted in locations across the country in 2007, the average yield increase of soybean treated with Headline ranged 4 to 8 bu/A, while treated corn showed an average yield of 12 to16 bu/A. Perhaps what's most reassuring about these yield numbers is their remarkable consistency over the four years of on-farm trials.

Hoffman is one grower who saw the power of Headline first hand. Last year he experienced the wettest August on record, so he chose to apply Headline. "I was pleased to see a 5 to 7 bushel increase on my yield monitor when I was harvesting the Headline-treated beans," Hoffman said.

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