Soybean School: Digital scouting tools help decipher harvest yields


What happens in your fields during the growing season plays a critical role in determining the numbers that pop up on the combine yield monitor at harvest.

One way to better understand those final yields and improve future management decisions is to utilize digital agronomy tools that are now widely available to both growers and agronomists, says AGRIS Co-operative agronomist Dale Cowan.

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soybean School, we catch up with Cowan as he scouts a soybean field in late July. He uses a Climate FieldView phone app (but there are others) to identify the location of a new biostimulant product he’s testing to evaluate its effectiveness in Ontario soybean fields. While there, he’s also making scouting notes on weed escapes, nutrient deficiencies and unwelcome insect pressure.

Whether he’s spotting volunteer corn, high bean leaf beetle pressure or manganese deficiency, he can georeference it within the field using this app. He can then assess how each stress impacts yield and make a plan, if required, to manage each issue. “Being out here when yield is being formed is when you learn a lot of things,” says Cowan.

In his product trial, he notes how plants treated with the biostimulant are exhibiting differences in internode length and the number of nodes on the main stem with pods. There are also contrasts in plant height. Whether these differences translate to yield and performance has yet to be determined, but it will give Cowan some key insights he can use to decipher trial yield data and potential payback.

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