Have you been engaged in a corn-on-corn rotation for the past several years, but are interested in switching some acres back to soybeans? Andrew Ferrel, a Mycogen Seeds agronomist, has four helpful pointers to share.
1. Start with a clean field. It takes time to break down corn crop residue. That can create a barrier for young soybean seedlings, especially under reduced-till or no-till conditions. Residue also keeps springtime soils cool and wet longer, which creates an ideal environment for certain fungal pathogens, Ferrel says.
"Soybean yields can be highly affected by poor emergence and early vigor," he says. "It is important to get soybeans off to a good start with an even and well-established stand. In some cases, light tillage of heavy corn residue may be needed to create a clean seedbed for good seed-to-soil contact."
2. Head off emergence issues with a combination insecticide and fungicide seed treatment. Ferrel says the investment is well worth the minimal added expense to help promote a strong stand, especially when planting in less-than-ideal conditions.
3. Consider soil inoculants. Corn-on-corn production can reduce levels of Bradyrhizobium japonicum, the soil bacteria that fix nitrogen for soybeans. If you have fields that have been out of soybean rotation for four or more years, Ferrel says adding an inoculant will ensure proper nodulation and prevent the need for supplemental N applications.
"Inoculants generally are very inexpensive relative to other crop inputs, and they are worth the investment in such cases," he says.
4. Watch nutrient levels. Corn can remove significant amounts of nutrients from the soil, especially N, P and K. Additionally, N applications in corn can significantly affect the soil’s pH. Therefore, it’s important to test for N, P, K and soil pH before planting soybeans in order to make any necessary adjustments.
As farmers continue planning for 2015, they should assess your fields and determine which are best-suited for soybean production, Ferrel adds.