Despite record corn yields in some parts of the country, low commodity prices may increase soybean acres in 2015. Rotating crops from corn to soybeans is a common practice; however, with the record yields comes record nutrient removal. After an impressive 2014 corn harvest, keep these three tips in mind to help you get the most out of a 2015 soybean crop:
Manage what can be managed. Be sure to check soil pH levels. No amount of fertilizer can offset low pH soils. Additionally, check for soybean cyst nematode. Any presence of the nematode can cause yield loss for an upcoming soybean crop.
Feed the soybeans. Oftentimes, soybeans are under-fertilized, and they are often thought of as a scavenger for excess nutrients. However, soybeans yielding an average of 62 bushels an acre require more than 17 pounds of fertilizer per acre each day. In fact, according to the University of Illinois’ Dr. Fred Below’s research, soybeans require more nitrogen and zinc than corn, and need the same amount of potassium.
Track the results. If, economically, it doesn’t make sense to fertilize a soybean field in 2015, at least apply a fertilizer check strip. This 100- to 200-foot-wide section in a field that receives a fertilizer application will help determine if skipping an annual fertilization program was a good idea. While it may save money at the start of the season, it may cost more in the long run. And that’s not a mistake that should be made twice.