intervals? Fertility program?
Kip: We rotate between corn and a variety of vegetable crops. We have not grown too many acres of soybeans before but last year's high yield in that crop has gotten me interested in growing more soybean acres. We have very little corn following corn. We use poultry litter for most of our P and K plus some of the N. We also supplement with ammonium sulfate through the pivots during the season.
Question: Have you ever experimented with a non-lethal dose of dicamba on soybeans?
Kip: Yes, I've experimented with a trace amount of dicamba on a very small area for observation purposes only. We applied dicamba, which is not labeled for use on soybeans, to see if we could shorten up the soybean plants while not hurting yield. The biggest challenge I have in my contest soybeans is the tremendous plant size. Large tall plants tend to lie over and that can lead to some plants being overshadowed by others. When the irrigated soybeans lay over early it can also lead to an increase in diseases, especially white mold.
We've been experimenting with several approaches to improve standability. One is to lower the seeding rate. We plant about 250,000 seeds per acre and from what we've seen, we don't want to cut it too low because we lose bushels. We also tried applying Cobra® on small soybeans to see if we could set back the top (terminal) bud and cause more branching and thus a shorter plant. This is also why we tried dicamba. We also tried clipping the soybeans to cut off the top buds to get more branching. All of these treatments were done on soybeans that were just over knee high and I think we need to do it earlier to achieve optimal results. I'm not yet sure which approach is best but I plan to experiment more next year. The clipping may have some application.
Some university researchers have indicated a possible benefit in yield by using a growth regulator herbicide such as 2,4-D or dicamba at an ultra low rate. The difficulty is not to over apply these products and to apply them at the right time. Currently, I do not recommend applying a growth regulator herbicide since I am only experimenting with them on a very small area to learn more how the soybeans respond.
Question: Next year I'm going to try planting soybeans into my fall planted wheat to see if I can get a double crop. I'm sure there will be injury to both crops. Any recommendations on a specific Pioneer® brand soybean variety, 15" or 30" row or where I can learn more about this before I try this on-farm experiment?
Kip: We have good results with double crop soybeans in my area. One thing we do when planting wheat is to plant soybeans right after harvesting the wheat. The University of Missouri conducted some tests in northern Missouri that evaluated row spacing on wheat and soybeans and planting soybeans in April into the wheat. The problem was that when they widened the wheat rows, the wheat yields went down significantly. During the three-year study, wheat yields were 9 bu./a lower in 15" versus 7.5" rows. Soybeans yields were better when planted earlier into the wheat. The 2003-2005 study actually found the best economic practice was to plant one full season soybean crop and not to go with the wheat/soybean combination. Crop prices will have a big influence and your location will make a big difference. I'm far enough south that we do just fine planting soybeans after wheat.
Question: Do you apply an in-furrow popup fertilizer at planting? Research I have seen recommends applying manganese with Roundup® applications, do you agree and what timing and products are advisable?
Kip: We do not apply a popup fertilizer on soybeans (or corn) because our new planter that we use for our contest plots is not set up to do this. Maybe this is something we need to look at in the future. We do apply micronutrients (including Mn) to the foliage several times during the season but have really not seen the "yellow flash" that is sometimes blamed on Mn deficiency in Roundup Ready® beans.
Question: The long racemes and high flower numbers depicted in various photos taken in your soybean fields are very impressive. Several factors interact to govern the total number of blossoms produced, flower retention, pollination and ultimately pod set. What agronomic practices do you think are exerting the most influence in terms of increasing flower numbers and pod set in your situation? Thanks for all you're doing to promote more intensive soybean management.
Kip: We feel a total systems approach on our maximum yield acres is necessary to maintain the high flower and pod counts required to reach our yield goals. It is difficult to determine which agronomic practices are the most influential. Planting the right soybean variety for your farm and minimizing stress on your soybeans are two practices every grower should utilize as part of their overall management to try to maximize soybean yields. Soybean plants have the potential to be very prolific. It is up to us to do everything we are capable of to protect the high yield potential of our crop.
Question: Foliar feeding fertilizer. Pros and Cons?
Kip: I use foliar feeding of various primary and micro-nutrients throughout the growing season. These are typically N and S plus Mn, Mo, Cu, Zn and B. My reason for applying these to my contest fields is simple. I want to maintain a high yield potential and I apply these nutrients to supplement the supply coming from the soil via root uptake. I don't put any P and K on with foliar applications but rely on soil applications of poultry litter to supply those critical nutrients. The only time I don't like to apply much of any foliar sprays is during pollination. At that time, all I apply is irrigation water as needed to eliminate drought stress.
Question: Is it true that you spray pesticides on your crops that are off label, such as spraying Regent insecticide foliar? I have also heard you use vinegar as a foliar feed in soybeans. If this is true, what benefit does this provide?
Kip: We carefully follow all pesticide label instructions. We do use foliar applications of small amounts of vinegar, especially on our soybean crops. Not everyone agrees that this practice does anything, but I feel that it does help keep the soybean crop from growing too "rank". We do feel that the slight acidity of vinegar mildly "shocks" the plant to keep it blooming and setting pods without growing so tall. With our high levels of fertility and frequent irrigation, our main concern with our soybeans is excessive plant height and lodging.
Question: What is the most important foliar fertilizer fungicide that you feel should apply after pod fill has started? Also, you talk about ammonium sulfate as foliar, what does it do to benefit the plant? Also, at what rates to apply? How often?
Kip: We apply a mix of foliar nutrients including N, S, Mn, B, Zn, Cu and Mo. We feel they are all important in making sure no nutrient is limiting plant growth. Since N is used in the largest amounts by the plant, you could say it's the most important. We put on about 5-10 lbs of N from ammonium sulfate per application. Fungicides are also an effective tool in limiting plant stress. We do rotate active ingredients if we make more than one fungicide application to the same crop. This keeps the plant pathogens from becoming resistant to a single fungicide.
Question: Have you ever experimented with two fungicide applications?
Kip: We typically make two fungicide applications on our soybean fields. The high moisture conditions due to frequent irrigation lead to an environment that is very conducive to disease development. The first application is made somewhere near R2-R3, followed by another application later in the season as conditions demand.
Question: We are only in the beginning stages of farming furrow irrigated soybeans. We have not found a more scientific way of applying the correct amount of water other than just trial and error. We have several very different soil types in the Mississippi Delta, ranging from alligator clay to commerce silt. Can you offer any insight?
Kip: I use pivot irrigation to water corn and soybeans in my operation. I water soybeans frequently using a low volume to keep the canopy moist and cool. For more information on furrow irrigation, I suggest contacting your local Pioneer sales professional.
You may also want to look into a program called FAUCET. This program takes into account soil texture, slope and row length. Knowing these variables, growers can punch different sized holes into the poly pipe so that each row receives equal amounts of water. Keep in mind, where there are wheel tracks the water will flow down faster since this soil area is more compacted. Some farmers will punch smaller holes where there are wheel tracks while others ignore that variable. The different diameter hole makes furrow irrigation very efficient on fields with different row lengths.
Phil Tacker, an irrigation specialist from the University of Arkansas, takes the FAUCET program one step further. He views each field with either Geographic Information Systems technology or Google Earth. Using this information, he puts down multiple sets of poly pipe so that at the water source, where different runs of poly pipe are attached, no plugging occurs. This ensures that each run of poly pipe is fully pressurized and delivers equal volumes of water to each furrow.
Below are two links to Arkansas and Mississippi Extension websites. Both cover furrow irrigation and you may find them helpful.
Question:Can you talk about gray leaf spot? It has seemed to set in earlier then other years. Remind me what or if anything can be done at this point. Last year I had it but seemed to still have very good yields. Did I lose yield and really not know it.
Kip: Gray leaf spot is not a problem for us in our corn fields because we use one or more fungicide sprays to control all corn leaf diseases. Fungicide applications after the blister stage to control GLS may be too late to be cost effective.
Question: How is the best way to determine which part of your soybean field to harvest for your highest yield? What nutrients do you think have the greatest impact on high yields? What Pioneer® brand soybean variety is the highest yielding?
Kip: I pick the top area to harvest the highest yielding soybeans by planning ahead and planting the contest entry in the best possible field. My soil is pretty well drained but I make sure not to pick a poorly drained area. The other thing is to scout fields often for diseases and insects throughout the season. By doing this, I have a good idea of the best area. The Missouri contest requires harvesting two continuous acres so I need to have a good idea going into harvest.
There are a number of nutrients that are very important for soybean yield. I don't think a lot of folks realize the fertilizer needs for soybeans are as high as they are for corn and they are really higher for nitrogen and potassium. To achieve 60 bu./a soybean grain takes about 240 lbs. of nitrogen, 50 lbs. of phosphate and 84 lbs. of potash. Compare that to 200 bu./a corn grain that uses 150 lbs of nitrogen, 74 lbs of phosphate and 54 lbs of potash. Soybeans fix nitrogen but they are not that efficient at it and to get the very highest yields, more nitrogen is required. That may not be practical in general conditions. Soybean potash requirements are higher than corn and it is very important to keep good potash levels. I also want to make sure to use a foliar mix of boron, manganese, copper, iron and zinc. I've found there isn't just one factor to achieve high yields. Instead, a grower needs to have a complete, well balanced fertilizer program.
Question: I'm intrigued by the benefits of this humate product that I read that you have used. Have you been able to document an increase in soil organic matter with it's use? How did you apply it?
Kip: We apply several hundred pounds of humate product each fall as a soil broadcast application. This amount contains a small amount of carbon compared to what is already in the soil's organic matter so we have not been able to measure a change in soil OM yet. The reason we use it is because of its other nutrient release characteristics.
Question: Where do you get the humate powder you use?
Kip: The humate is mined in South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Florida and other locations. I recommend searching the Internet for more information.
Have you tried any of Kip's ideas? I have, there are some money making tips in this text.