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High Yield Team: Ideas for a 15-bushel bump

Agriculture.com Staff 02/03/2006 @ 3:26pm

Readying for soybean cyst nematode and Asian rust are two steps taken by Ron Heck of Perry, Iowa.

Farmers have always had high standards, and those of you who have joined the High Yield Team are no exception. So far, more than 900 members have entered a soybean field they wish to improve in the High Yield Team challenge. It's part of a program in which Successful Farming magazine has teamed up with the AgriEdge Soybean Program from Syngenta.

The average yield of fields that High Yield Team members have entered into the challenge is 47 bushels an acre. On average, members have set a yield goal of 62 bushels an acre.

So what will it take to boost yields by 15 bushels an acre? Two High Yield Team farmer panelists give their insight on steps they take to boost yields.

Prepare for SCN, Asian rust

"Now is the time of year to do the best job you can on variety selection, particularly when it comes to soybean cyst nematode-resistant varieties," says Ron Heck, Perry, Iowa.

Heck stresses the importance of rotating SCN-resistant varieties. That's because SCN populations can build if the same SCN-resistant variety is continually planted.

Heck is also readying for Asian soybean rust. "No one can say for sure when it will arrive, so you need to be ready," he says. A good tool for monitoring its spread is the sentinel plot system established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Another perk of no-till is energy savings, says Chuck Myers, Lyons, Nebraska. "Saving trips across the field doesn't mean yields have to suffer," he says.

No-tlll

Chuck Myers, Lyons, Nebraska, has no-tilled soybeans for 21 years. That's helped him deal with the dry conditions of the western Corn Belt.

"We probably experience a dry year, similar to what Illinois experienced last year, about one in every five years," he says. "Most of the soils here in northeastern Nebraska are deep silty clay loams, and most of the cropland is still dryland. Even though the soil has moisture-holding capacity, soybean yields can really suffer if the soil is dried out with tillage during a drought."

The soil moisture that no-till saves is critical. "I've experienced several dry years where no-till soybeans substantially out-yielded conventionally planted soybeans," Myers says. "One year in particular was 1991, when no-till soybeans averaged over 40 bushels per acre, and conventional soybeans were about 12 bushels per acre. The difference was in the saved soil moisture."

Myers says no-till isn't the answer in all situations. "If done under the right set of circumstances, though, no-till can mean higher yields over the long term," he says.

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