Farmland across the U.S. Midwest is experiencing flooding issues of immense proportion. In many cases, due to damage sustained by the soil, corn crop planting may be delayed or not done at all. However, leaving fields barren can have significant economic and environmental issues. That’s why many farmers choose to plant a soybean cover crop.
A four-year study by the University of Missouri Extension set out to find out how a cover crop can best benefit soils after flooding prevented planting. According to MU Extension agronomist Wayne Flanary, “Growers got the benefit of reduced soil erosion when using cover crops. They can serve as a secondary crop for forage or silage in years when prevented planting occurs for crops such as corn.” 1
A March 26, 2019, article by Iowa State University’s Extension and Outreach Program outlined several key items to consider when planting soybean on previously flooded soil:
- Use a cover crop, such as soybean, immediately after soil dries to promote growth of microorganisms that are essential for nutrient cycling.
- Planting conditions should provide good soil to seed contact for cover crop success.
- Consider overwintering cover crops to provide additional benefits of continuous growth in the spring prior to planting.
- Establishment of a cover crop can help suppress weeds, preventing a buildup of the weed seedbank. 2
Of course, a soybean crop requires a robust and effective protection program to enhance their yields. The application of a proven fungicide is especially important to protect against soybean rust, a common and costly disease. There are a few breakthrough fungicides on the market now that provide outstanding protection.
While the flood damage in some areas may seem overwhelming, all may not be lost. Consider soybean as a good solution to rotate in with your corn. With the right treatment program it can be beneficial to the soil, the overall environment and the economy.