Soybean School: Feeding for Yield

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How do you turn a 55-bushel soybean crop into a 65-bushel crop?

Timely planting? Better weather? Choosing the right variety? A little luck and better management will always put more bushels in the bin, but if growers want to push yields to the next level, they need to better serve the crop’s nutrient needs, says Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs soybean specialist Horst Bohner.

“I’m convinced that one of the reasons we are not getting to 70 or 80 bushels is not because of the varieties (grown), it’s because we’re not feeding them,” says Bohner.

How then should growers feed their soybeans? Bohner doesn’t have all the answers, but he’s working on it. In this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soybean School, we catch up with Bohner at OMAFRA’s Bornholm, Ont., research location in mid-June where he’s inspecting a series of fertility trials.

Story continues after video.

One of the plots that caught Bohner’s eye early in the season received 100 lb/ac of ammonium sulphate (21 lb of actual N and 24 lb of sulphur). “These beans are significantly darker and have more growth, but then you have to ask yourself – will that translate to yield?” he asks.

Another plot with 75 lb of MESZ (12-40-0-10-1Zn) plus 75 lb of K-Mag, primarily potassium with some magnesium and sulphur, has also captured the researcher’s attention. While not as eye-catching as the ammonium sulphate plot, plants in this plot are clearly outperforming the checks and Bohner expects the difference to become even more pronounced once plant roots start tapping into the available fertility.

Other plots include foliar feeding, micro urea, extra nitrogen at early podset, and foliar fungicides on top of that.

“If you put that all together, I think we have a pretty decent shot of 10 bushels more,” says Bohner. Growers can expect to see trial results at industry meetings this winter. It’s sure to make for some interesting conversations. Stay tuned to Soybean School for a full report.

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