Tips for preparing for soybean planting after years of corn

Feb 02, 2015

Four steps could help lead to a successful soybean rotation

By Diego Flammini,

As planting season quickly approaches, farmers will begin to decide whether or not to continue monocropping or branch out and try to grow a different crop this year.

Andrew Ferrel, from Mycogen Seeds whose headquarters are in Indianapolis, came up with a list of four steps to take if deciding to switch from a corn crop to a soybean crop for this upcoming planting season.

1. Start with a clean field
Breaking down corn crop residue can take a long time. The leftover corn crop can act as a barrier for soybean seedlings, especially in fields where reduced tillage or no tillage is practiced. As a result, soil can stay cooler and wetter longer. Ferrel said even some light tillage in areas with heavy corn residue can create a clean seed bed and better seed-to-soil contact ratios.

2. Head off emergence issues
Insect pressures and seedling diseases can affect seedling emergence. Ferrel recommends a seed treatment to help initiate a strong stand, earlier closure of the canopy and of course, help with higher yields.

3. Consider soil inoculants
Years of corn monocropping can decrease the amount of Bradyrhizobium japonicum, the soil bacteria responsible for fixing nitrogen in soybeans. Ferrel says inoculants could benefit fields that have been out of soybean rotation for four years. He says they’re inexpensive compared to other inputs and can be worth the investment.

4. Watch nutrient levels
Corn is usually responsible for the depletion of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Before planting soybeans, take the proper soil test levels, paying special attention to phosphorous and potassium and adjusting to make the best environment for high soybean yields.

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