The Sharp Edge: Sulphur strategies for higher-yielding soybeans

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Research from Purdue University agronomy professor Shaun Casteel indicates that early sulphur applications broadcast pre-plant or right at planting can deliver a soybean yield bump in specific conditions.

On the season debut of The Sharp Edge, Maizex agronomist Henry Prinzen takes that knowledge to the field to compare notes with Simcoe, Ontario, grower Kyle Sowden who participated in on-farm sulphur trials in 2023.

Last year, Maizex ran trials on five farms across Ontario and Quebec and saw a significant yield response to 100 pounds of ammonium sulfate (20 pounds of actual sulphur) at three sites, including Sowden’s farm. That yield bump increased to up to 12 bushels for treatments that also included a fungicide and added nitrogen.

In the video, Prinzen looks at why some sites were more responsive than others. “For our responsive sites, we’re looking at those lower CEC (cation exchange capacity) soils. They’re probably sands, but they’re not always sands. We had some mid texture soils that did respond. But for those really heavy clays and heavy loam — we didn’t see anything this year.” (Story continues after the video.)

Prinzen also discusses how tissue testing at the R3 stage can determine nitrogen and sulphur concentrations and how those measurements can determine whether adding sulphur could drive yield. Casteel’s work indicates that if the nitrogen-to-sulphur ratio is above 18:1, more sulphur is required; but if ratio is below 18:1, adding sulphur doesn’t likely contribute to yield. And that’s exactly how things played out in the Maizex trials, says Pinzen: “Our sites that responded were above that ratio and the sites that didn’t respond were below that ratio.”

Prinzen says 2024 presents an excellent opportunity for growers to run on-farm trials and tissue test to see how soybeans respond to sulphur on their farm.

Tap here for more episodes of The Sharp Edge.

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