Tuesday, March 5, 2013

High Yield Soybeans

High yield soybeans are being discussed again today.  I want high yields as much as anyone, but what about quality, and what about profit?  Shouldn't we be discussing high profit soybeans?

The easiest way to increase profit is to increase yield more than it costs to produce that yield.  At what point does cost overtake the yield increase?

Personally, I have never raised a good crop that didn't make a profit.  That's probably just the frugalness bred and cultivated in me.  Dad and grandpa never had excess money to produce yield and I never have either.

One critical point is that it takes 5 to 6 lbs of nitrogen to produce a bushel of soybeans.  On 100 bushel yield, that is 500 lbs of nitrogen.  How do I get that much nitrogen without killing the beans?

I have been interested in inoculation all my life because I was taught its value as a child.  We always inoculated legumes in order to encourage them to produce all the free nitrogen from our nitrogen laden atmosphere as possible.  Big, healthy pink to reddish nodules is my goal in every legume I raise.  Inoculation always paid for me but can it produce 5-6 lbs of nitrogen per bushel?

NO.  I must build a soil environment where nodules abound and it takes a lot of atmospheric air in the soil to do that.  That means a very healthy soil is necessary for high yields.  That takes time and that takes money.  I don't think we are going to get there the way we produce soybeans today.  Not every farmer inoculates and even less apply enough food to their soybeans.

Our country is built around the principles of 40 bushel beans and 160 bushel corn.  Now we hit some hard weather years and we can't even hit those averages nationally.  I can't follow the crowd on this one, I must think outside the box and be in the upper third of production while keeping costs profitable.

So how do you produce more profitable, higher yielding beans this year?  First, apply a half a ton of gypsum and be sure you have your pH in the upper 6's, 7.0 is not too high.  Apply calcium nitrate beside the row at planting to maximize nitrogen production in the crop.  100 lbs of AMS provides a nice environment for my microbes to be ready to feed my crop.

Plant a grass cover ahead of the beans.  This cover helps control weeds and provides nutrient to the new crop as it dies and the new crop emerges.  Control the weeds.  Add a little foliar nitrogen with whatever else your crop needs throughout the season.  Remember there are 17 known nutrients and we tend to over nitrate our crops and underfeed everything else.

Inoculate.  This year we are treating our seed with fungicide, insecticide, rhizobia and trichoderma.  We will add more rhizobia and trichoderma to the seed box.  Soil bacterial cell counts are record low across the US this year after the stresses of last year.

I am doing these simple things and my goal for net profit is $400 per acre.  I have done this before and can do it again this year.

If I can't do this, don't call me a farmer.

Ed Winkle


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