Fred Below shares the six secrets of soybean success
Fred Below, Ph.D., Professor of Crop Physiology, University of Illinois, and AJ Woodyard, technical crop production specialist, BASF, shared their latest data about how farmers can nearly double their yields with a comprehensive pest management plan, during an educational session titled “Six Secrets of Soybeans Revealed,” at Commodity Classic.
While both Below and BASF conducted research independent of each other, their results were very similar: growers can maximize yields by using a comprehensive agronomic management program featuring a combination of herbicides, fungicides and insecticides.
“Comprehensive pest-management solutions are delivering exponential yield improvements and dramatically changing the odds in favor of farmers,” said Woodyard, who summarized recent BASF research.
Woodyard highlighted studies that consisted of a combination treatment of BASF herbicides and fungicides in corn, and BASF herbicides, fungicides and insecticides in soybeans, and compared their effectiveness to a glyphosate-based control program. Results revealed soybean yields increased by an average of 6.0 bu/A over the glyphosate-only program.1
According to Below, the current average soybean yield in the U.S. is roughly 42 bu/A, and has been hovering around that figure for the past few years.
“While it may seem daunting, the quest for 85.0 bu/A isn’t a stretch. Yields of this nature are produced each year in state contests, so we know it can be done,” Below said. “The trick is figuring out how to consistently produce these yield levels, and our research has identified six strategies to help accomplish this task.”
In 2012, Below and his team at the University of Illinois set up multi-location trials in their home state to analyze the value of management factors that contribute to soybean yield.2 What they discovered were six “secrets” that are critical for achieving high yield goals:
1. Weather: While weather is out of anyone’s control, Below’s team found that it influences the success of all other management factors. Management practices that promote strong root development, such as fertility, enhanced seed emergence and disease control, may help mitigate its negative effects.
2. Improve soil fertility: Below believes that soil fertility is one of the most important, yet often overlooked components of high yield soybean production. Improved soil fertility can be managed through balanced crop nutrition and fertilizer placement technologies. Below’s 2012 research revealed an additional 4.3bu/A with this secret.