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Identify and manage the number one soybean yield limiting factor first

By: Lyndsey Smith

January 15, 2021

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To paraphrase and slightly adapt the KISS principle, let’s keep it simple, soybeans.

Horst Bohner, soybean specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, says that while there are a multitude of factors at play in achieving the top soybean yields possible, many farmers could likely make bigger gains by honing in on one factor first versus all.

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Soybeans are a dynamic crop and can compensate for missing plants or low stand counts. Farmers also have several management decisions they can control: fertilizer rate and placement, herbicide program, and pest control. The weather and where you farm isn’t really something you can control, so before you get too into the weeds (pardon the pun) on soybean management, first ask yourself: what’s the number one thing holding back yield by field?

Bohner notes that for some fields it will be drainage, others a problem weed, or perhaps it’s a potassium or phosphorus issue that’s holding back basic yield potential. These are the agronomic basics that may result in the bigger yield gains of five or more bushels an acre — and at times, for a very reasonable investment.

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Before you head deep into variable rate or multi zone management, first make sure you’ve got a handle on the foundation of yield in each field.

Hear more on this discussion in this episode of The Agronomists!