March 20, 2023

Fertility trials show advantage of feeding soybeans

PONTIAC, Ill. — A standard soybean fertility program used to be just relying on whatever was left over in the field after corn, but feeding the plants should be looked at no differently than feeding ourselves to maintain health.

“If we can direct the water and the nutrients, the food, to the mouth of the plant, we can get this explosion of activity. Some of it is biological activity in the soil. Some of it is stimulating that soybean to put on a big root system,” said Jason Webster, lead agronomist and director of Precision Planting’s Precision Technology Institute.

“How many times do you feed your soybeans? I look at this as a way to tap into the soybean plant and continue to feed it.”

Webster backed the notion of keeping soybeans fed and happy throughout the growing season with the results of PTI field trials conducted in 2022. The data was presented PTI’s winter tour.

“I’m going to feed those soybeans early and get them off to the races and flower quicker.”

—  Jason Webster, lead agronomist and director, Precision Technology Institute

Leading the top 10 PTI agronomic trials in return on investment last year was the high management soybean trials.

“Precision Planting’s Conceal on the planter has changed the game for us quite a bit. We go out 3 inches away from the soybean and we’ve got some really nice fertilizer products out there that are helping to drive those roots and help drive soybean yield,” Webster noted.

“I want those plants coming out of the ground with their hair on fire and ready to go because I want them to flower as fast as possible. I want a longer growing season. I feel like here in Pontiac we’re kind of stuck. I need a longer growing season. I’m going to plant earlier. I’m also going to feed those soybeans early and get them off to the races and flower quicker.

“I missed flowering on soybeans on Memorial Day by two days in 2022. I’ve never seen it that early before. I want large soybean leaves for sunlight. That’s my factory. I’ve got to be at 100%. The factory can’t be running 85%.”

High management soybean trials were conducted on the PTI Farm in 2022 using fertility treatment programs from seven different companies.

All of the high management trials included strip-till with a banded diammonium phosphate 18-46-0 and potassium chloride 0-0-60. Miravis Neo fungicide was applied at R1, and TrivaPro fungicide was applied at R3.

The high management trials include the application of 5 inches of water during the growing season via surface drip irrigation.

The Nachurs fertility program had the top yield at 101 bushels per acre in the high management soybean trials, and the AgroLiquid program had the highest positive returns at $90.38 per acre.

Both of these trials had a planting date of May 5 with a planting population of 120,000 per acre in 30-inch rows after corn. The soybean price used was $13.96 per bushel. The rates are per acre.

Here is the fertility program under the Nachurs high management trials:

At Plant

• Conceal Dual Band — 5 gallons Throwback, 1 quart Humiflex Max, 5 gallons K-fuse, 0.5 gallons SideSwipe.

• FurrowJet Center — 1 quart Ryzo-Link PE, 1.5 gallons Balance, 1 pint HumiFlex FA, 1 pint Calcium 3%.

• FurrowJet Wings — 1 gallon Balance, 2 gallons TripleOptions.

Foliar Applications

• V3 — 1 quart FinishLine, 3 quarts TripleOption.

• R1 — 1 gallon K-flex, 1 gallon imPulse, 1 pint FinishLine.

• R1 — 8 ounces Boron 10%, 2 ounces Moly.

• R3 — 2 quarts K-fuel, 1.5 gallons Balance.

The at-plant treatments achieved 97 bushels per acre, 9.5 bushels over the control. At-plant plus foliar fertility treatments yielded 101 bushels per acre, 13.5 above the control and 4 bushels over the at-plant only treatments.

The economics indicate at-plant treatments resulted in gains of $47.64 bushels per acre, while the full combination treatments gained positive returns of $66 per acre.

Here is the fertility program under the AgroLiquid high management trials:

At Plant

FurrowJet Tri-Band — 1 gallon Sure-K, 10 quarts Micro500, 1 gallon SpringUp.

Foliar Applications

V4 — 1 pint Boron.

R1 — 1.5 gallons Kapitilize, 1.5 gallons FertiRain, 1 pint Manganese.

R3 — 1.5 gallons Kaptilize, 1.5 gallons FertiRain, 1 pint Manganese.

The control treatments averaged 87.5 bushels per acre. At-plant treatments yielded 91.4 bushels per acre. At-plant plus foliar treatments had an average yield of 97.8 bushels per acre.

Economics indicate at-plant treatments resulted in gains of $63.03 per acre, while a full combination of treatments gained positive returns of $90.38 per acre.

“I’m making more money on a per acre basis than I have been with just running DAP and potash,” Webster said.

“If I don’t irrigate with some of these treatments, obviously my yield goes down 20 to 23 bushels across the board, but you will still see the same response, the same trend with the treatments. The bushels aren’t as high, but the trend line is still there. It’s still making me money versus a standard DAP and potash.”

Irrigation Study

An on-going high management soybean study at the PTI Farm evaluates a NETAFIM drip tape irrigation system that feeds the soybeans with water and nutrients throughout the growing season.

“We’ve been irrigating soybeans for four years on this farm. I haven’t had a single year where we received less than a 23-bushel yield increase from irrigating soybeans,” Webster said.

Water is accessed from a water recycling management program where field tiles run to an onsite pond and that water is reused in the crops.

In 2022, the drip tape irrigation resulted in an average yield increase of 23.8 bushels per acre compared to dry land soybeans. 4.5 inches of water was applied through the drip irrigation system from June to September.

Fertigation was also implemented to apply manganese, copper, boron, sulfur, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

“Four years of data in the high management soybean irrigation study has proven irrigation to increase soybean yield by an average of 24.2 bushels per acre, while increasing additional gross income by an average of $268.37 per acre,” Webster said.

Tom Doran

Tom Doran

Field Editor