Spend the holidays with Soybean School


The Christmas presents have been opened and you’ve finished the turkey leftovers. What’s next for the holidays? Why not binge soybean videos!

The RealAgriculture Soybean School published 30 videos in 2022 and here’s your chance to see what you missed or do a double take on your favourite episodes.

The 2022 season kicked off with a double bill featuring University of Illinois plant physiology professor Fred Below. When it comes to increasing soybean yield, he has two words of advice — plant early.

In his presentation at the Ontario Agricultural Conference, Below shared data from eight years of trials that show growers in Illinois lose almost half a bushel (0.47 bu/ac) for every day planting is delayed after April 23. On this episode, he shares how this data and a growing understanding of soybean vigour and resilience is convincing many Illinois growers to plant soybeans before corn.

Below was back again in early February to discuss how much nitrogen soybeans need and when? Grain farmers are known for their generosity when supplying nitrogen to the corn crop, but many growers get stingy when providing nitrogen to the soybean crop. Below notes that it takes four to five times the amount of nitrogen to produce one bushel of soybeans compared to a bushel of corn. “It’s a huge nitrogen-requiring crop,” he says.

How might a changing climate affect soybean production across Canada? That’s a question Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientist Ward Smith tackled during the Northern Soybean Summit hosted by Soy Canada. In this video, Smith told Soybean School host Bernard Tobin that many Canadian growers can expect to see manageable heat, sufficient moisture and a longer growing season heading into 2030 and beyond.

Smith notes that a warming climate should allow soybean production to expand in Western Canada in the black and some of the dark grey Chernozem soils. These areas now tend to see more rainfall and projections indicate a similar trend in the future. Smith adds that research estimates southern Prairie regions will continue to experience major water stress.

Check out all 2022 Soybean School episodes

When it comes to soil health, corn residue is precious, but it can cause headaches for growers who plant a following soybean crop. On this episode we caught up with PRIDE Seeds market agronomist Matt Chapple for some ideas on how growers can best manage all that organic matter as they head into soybean planting.

Corn stalks produced about one ton of dry matter residue for every 40 bu/ac. That means an average Ontario cornfield will produce about five tons of residue. What’s a soybean grower to do? Chapple says the best strategy depends on a host of individual factors. He explains that assessing the decomposition and positioning of the residue is key. In this field he notes that much of the residue is sitting up and concentrated along the base of last year’s corn stalks. That bodes well for no-till soybeans, which can be planted with a well set-up planter that includes row cleaners and adequate downforce to clear trash between the corn rows, promote a drier, warmer seedbed, and ensure good seed-to-soil contact.

Every year soybean growers invest in weed control to keep their fields clean. But quite often, new, uninvited weed pests enter fields. Where do they come from? How do they break through weed control defences and gain a foothold in fields? On this episode, OMAFRA weed specialist Mike Cowbrough looks at what weeds can lurk in field boundaries and how to control them before they enter the field.

The impact water hardness can have on glyphosate effectiveness was clearly demonstrated in this video, shot at  Manitoba Crop Diagnostic School at Carman, Man. Manitoba Agriculture weed specialist Kim Brown-Livingston says fixing a water hardness problem can be as simple as adding ammonium sulfate (AMS) to the tank before adding glyphosate, as the AMS will tie up the cations in the water. Brown-Livingston notes that decreasing water volume and increasing herbicide rate can also offset water hardness issues.

When it cones to determining ideal soybean planting depth, moisture levels are a key factor to consider. But growers should also think about soil type and clay content. On this episode, OMAFRA soybean specialist Horst Bohner digs into how clay soils impact planting depth.

In soils with higher clay content, Bohner says growers have to be more mindful of planting too deep because crusting can be an issue when the soil dries out after heavier rains. Deeper planting is more palatable in loamier soils because the seed’s hypocotyl can push longer and emerge stronger when the soil isn’t as tight.

As 2022 harvest neared, agronomists were reminding growers that the potential for an open fall presents a great opportunity for weed control. BASF agronomist Ken Currah says fall is the perfect time to tackle tough weeds like dandelion, Canada thistle and perennial sow thistle. “This is the time to get those weeds and really lay a nice foundation for a comprehensive weed control program.”

In this video, Currah looks at strategies to control weeds in cereal stubble and how cover crops impact this situation; he also discusses opportunities to target weeds in soybeans after the combine leaves the field.

New management technology is always a part of Soybean School. On this episode, AGRIS Co-operative agronomist Dale Cowan shares how he uses Canopeo, a free phone app developed by Oklahoma State University, to measure canopy closure in a snap.

Using the app, researchers, agronomists, and farmers can gather canopy details by simply holding their phones at shoulder height above the canopy. The app takes still photos of the canopy and then calculates the percentage of ground that is covered by green vegetation, notes Cowan. “It’s a really rapid way to figure out just how much ground cover you have, and it’s also useful for assessing cover crop establishment,” he adds.

Two herbicides are better than one, right? That’s the goal when products are tank-mixed together, but they don’t always deliver better weed control when antagonism occurs, says Syngenta Canada sales representative, and former field biologist, Matt Underwood.

Antagonism takes place when two or more herbicides are combined and results in lower weed control than if they had been applied separately. This most often occurs when a broadleaf and grass herbicide is mixed together. On this episode, Underwood draws on his Masters of Science studies at the University of Guelph for tips on how growers can better mitigate antagonism in the tank.

We wrapped up the 2022 season with a look back at record high soybean yields in Western Canada. The final tally hasn’t been published yet, but 2022 will go down as the new record high year for soybean yields in Western Canada, mainly southern Manitoba. On this episode, RealAgriculture’s Kelvin Heppner and Manitoba Agriculture’s pulse specialist Dennis Lange discuss Statistics Canada’s latest provincial estimate — 43 bushels/acre, up from 27 bu/ac in 2021 — and the potential for that number to be even higher after producers’ crop insurance reports are compiled.

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Soybean School (view all)Season 11 (2022) Episode 1

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