Crop Rotation Plus BASF Plant Health Benefits = Increased Yield

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Rotating corn and soybean has been a common agronomic practice in much of the Corn Belt for decades. This article will review the primary agronomic benefits of rotating corn and soybean, and show how supplementing this practice with the use of BASF Plant Health products, like Headline AMP and Priaxor fungicide, can help maximize yield potential.

Rotating corn and soybean has several agronomic benefits:

  • One study comparing results from 28 field trials focused on crop rotation found an average 7.8-percent increase in yield resulting from corn-soybean crop rotation.
  • It decreases the buildup of potential harmful pathogens in the soil profile. The pathogens of several key diseases overwinter in crop residue. By rotating to non-host crops, you can reduce the build-up of these pathogens. A key example is northern corn leaf blight. Incidents of this disease have increased over the past years, and studies show that a corn-soybean rotation can reduce the pathogen level in the soil and thus the impact of the disease. 
  • Rotating corn and soybean can also help reduce nematode populations in the soil and help control weeds. “Producers are really taking a chance if they don’t rotate [corn and soybeans],” says Palle Pedersen, Iowa State University soybean Extension agronomist. “Diseases and pathogens build up in the soil and rotation helps manage them.”

A 15-year research study at the University of Wisconsin studied corn and soybean yields, based upon rotation sequence and the type of tillage system used. The objective was to quantify the “Rotation Effect,” as it was dubbed by lead researcher Joe Lauer with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The study produced some interesting findings:

  • First-year corn, and corn rotated with soybean, annually yielded higher than continuous corn.
  • First-year soybean yields were 12 percent higher than other soybean rotations studied.
  • The rotation effect lasts (at most) two years, increasing grain yield 10 percent to 19 percent for first-year corn and up to 7 percent for second-year corn.

Another key benefit of rotating corn and soybean comes in the form of nitrogen replenishment and nitrogen management. Soybeans are legumes, which fix their own nitrogen and can provide nitrogen to the subsequent corn crop.  In addition, because of the changes in soil temperature, soil moisture, pH, residue and tillage practices in corn-soybean rotation, nitrogen mineralization can be improved, according to Iowa State University.  Crop rotation can also optimize nitrogen use, thus playing a significant role in minimizing nitrogen loss and nitrate leaching into surface and groundwater. 

Supplementing your corn and soybean rotation with the application of BASF Plant Health products such as Headline AMP® fungicide and Priaxor® fungicide can also improve nitrogen use efficiency in corn and soybean plants.

For example,  one on-farm trial conducted in Douglas County, IL., in 2015, found that plants treated with Headline AMP fungicide used nitrogen more efficiently than untreated plants. When 100 lbs of nitrogen was applied, corn treated with Headline AMP fungicide yielded 9.1 more bushels per acre than areas receiving no fungicide. This difference was even greater as nitrogen application was increased to 200 lbs, where in Headline AMP fungicide treated areas, corn yielded 19.4 more bushels per acre than untreated areas.


To learn more about the benefits of Headline AMP fungicide or Priaxor fungicide talk to your local BASF representative.


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