Doing the Math on Soybean Yields

March 14, 2012 03:04 AM
Doing the Math on Soybean Yields

Think in increments to get more bushels in the bin

Do you want higher soybean yields? Do the math, says Lance Tarochione, an agronomist with Asgrow.

"A couple of our researchers at the Monmouth (Ill.) research farm wondered what an individual soybean plant would yield if you planted it by itself," he says.

So that’s exactly what they did—and he says an acre worth of those plants would have produced 957 bu/A. And while practical farming doesn’t allow for this type of scenario, Tarochione says the experiment does open up the discussion about what is required for incremental yield gains.

Bottom line, there are three ways soybean farmers can capture higher yields: Produce more pods per plant, more beans per pod, or heavier beans. Tarochione says capturing higher yields is not as daunting when a farmer considers the incremental requirements needed.

"If you do the math, to get a four-bushel yield increase with 120,000 bean plants per acre, you only need six more beans per plant to do that," he says. "You might think that six beans per plant are not a big deal, but four bushels are a pretty big deal."

Tarochione says the hope of capturing higher soybean yields and profits is much more encouraging if you consider the research that’s currently in progress. He says multiple soybean traits—including ones that could improve yields, expand herbicide tolerance and bump up oil quality—are all currently in advanced testing and could be available commercially in the near future.

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