Soybean School: Five key agronomic decisions for planting season

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Soybean yields are often determined by growing conditions and whether growers are lucky to get those August rains that make grain.

But how important is it to make the right agronomic and management decisions at planting to set up that yield success? That’s a question Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs soybean specialist Horst Bohner tackles on a new episode of the  RealAgriculture Soybean School.

As the calendar turns to May and planters get rolling, Bohner and host Bernard Tobin look at five key agronomic decisions that can have a significant impact on soybean yield. First up is fertility — from pop-ups to starters, broadcast versus banding, and background fertility — there’s plenty to consider.

For starters, Bohner believes having a good soil test and knowing field fertility is key to making the right crop nutrient decisions at planting. “It’s a five bushel game,” he says. Based on research trials over the past 10 years, fields with low fertility can deliver an additional five bushels per acre with spring applications of phosphorous, and potassium. He notes, however, that there is practically no yield bump for fields with moderate soil P and K. In these fields, growers should be assured they have adequate fertility to optimize yield.

In the video, Bohner also looks at managing residue at planting and emphasizes the importance of getting those corn stalks out of the row. When it comes to planting date, he says the oilseed crop has proven it can handle tougher early-season conditions. “The only reason to wait is for the soil to be fit,” he adds.

Bohner and Tobin wrap up the discussion with a look at seeding depth — research shows the 1.5 inch depth is the sweet spot — as well as factors growers need to consider when selecting the optimum seeding rate for their farm, soil type and yield potential. See video below.

Tap here for more Soybean School videos.

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