6 Ways to Trim Soybean Production Costs in 2015

When economics reach the current level, farmers tend to cut soybean
inputs. Researchers led by Seth Naeve, Extension agronomist at the University of Minnesota, conducted a multistate study to evaluate soybean inputs. From the results, they have been able to make
recommendations on what inputs you can and shouldn't trim from for
soybean production. 

There are two areas you shouldn't trim from; you can read about those here.

Naeve recommends
farmers evaluate all of their inputs for the year to avoid taking any
for granted. After careful consideration, these may be options for you
to cut from this spring.

1. Pay attention to your soil test results. If the results say you don’t need extra fertilizer, don’t apply extra this year. That equals huge savings from the start, explains Chad Lee, Extension agronomist at the University of Kentucky.

2. Carefully consider the use of seed treatments. “Results imply that in
the northern states, soybean seed treatments are still cost-effective,” says Lee. "In
the southern region of the Corn Belt, there’s less chance for return.”

3. Consider fertilizer source.
Don’t use a foliar fertilizer, unless there’s a known micronutrient deficiency in the field, says Lee. Their research showed the payback wasn’t there.

4. Only use foliar fungicides and insecticides where there is the greatest risk for disease and insect pressure. “We didn’t see a lot of evidence of products increasing yields,” says Naeve. “What we saw were products that protected yields.”

Naeve
recommends a more active scouting approach. Once you notice a pest, he
advises that you aggressively treat it. Active scouting is required to
notice the pests. If you don’t have time for an intense scouting
program, he recommends hiring a service that will scout your fields.
That’s a sentiment echoed by Lee.

“I would not apply those based
on the calendar this year,” says Lee. “I would try to target those in
areas where you’re at higher risk for disease and insect pressure.”

By not spraying prophylactically, you’ll save product cost and know you’re treating pests at the correct time, says Naeve.

5. Don’t apply extra nitrogen (N) to soybeans. “The
majority of data we have shows it is very difficult to regain our
investment of N fertilizer on soybeans," says Lee. "There are times we
get yield increases, but there aren’t many times we pay for it.”

6. Consider your seeding rate.
“For full-season beans, if we get a stand close to 100,000 plants, we
have excellent yields,” says Lee. “In fact, under high-yielding
conditions, we need less than that. We’re seeing beans behave the
opposite of corn. On our better fields, we put out more corn seed per
acre. On our better soybean fields, we can plant less soybean seed per
acre.”

The data implies that the small yield response from the increased seeding rate equals the cost of the added seed.

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