Soybean School: Row Width, Fertilizer Levels & Tillage — What Impacts Yield Most?

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If some is good, is more better? Well, that depends on what we’re talking about. Horst Bohner, soybean specialist with OMAFRA, definitely supports moving towards optimal number of plants per acre and that might mean higher seeding rates, but when it comes to tillage and fertilizer, less can certainly be more.

Soybeans are unlike other crops in that yield is set very late in the season. This is why banded or in-furrow fertilizer doesn’t always pay dividends — by the time the crop really starts to draw on the soil’s nutrient levels, the roots are big and spread out. What’s more, yield is more limited by plant counts, rather than each plant’s yield potential, so you’re better off focusing on an optimal plant stand, versus overly high fertility levels.

Click here for past Soybean School episodes.

Then there’s the question of tillage. As Bohner points out in this episode of the Soybean School, some no-till fields have produced 90 bushel an acre beans, and some well-tilled fields have underwhelmed. Why? It’s all in the planting. A well-planned and executed planting pass that achieves the right plants per acre is more important that how black the soil is. And are wider rows OK? Watch the video to find out.

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