Three Steps to Crop Success

There are three things farmers can do every year to put that year’s crop on the path to high performance—establishing a healthy stand early in the season, using treated seed and providing added crop nutrition. These three things can make all the difference when it comes time to harvest. Those were the major takeaways from this year’s data gathered from the Agtegra Research and Technology Plots near Bath, S.D.
Strong Root Systems, Better Yields
“Getting the crop established early with  a healthy stand and a good root system was absolutely critical this year,” says Brad Ruden, Agtegra Manager of Agronomy Technical Services. “Both corn and soybeans with larger root systems were better able to handle stresses later in the season.”
The data showed that crops with a strong root system were better able to retain moisture for longer periods of time. Added nutrition in the soil also contributed to the crops’ success.
“Crops that didn’t have early plant growth and access to readily available crop nutrition weren’t as robust and couldn’t compensate later in the year when the drought stress became severe.” Ruden adds.
Seed Treatment Pays Dividends
Data showed that treating soybean seed with the full level of protection is one way to ensure high yields, according to Ruden. Using a  premium seed treatment package with full fungicide and insecticide treatment is the ideal choice for keeping seeds safe and providing superior performance.
“Compared to soybean seed treated with only fungicide or untreated seed, it’s definitely worth the money to put full seed treatment on soybeans,” Ruden says.
Ruden recognizes that seed treated with both fungicide and insecticide does come at an additional cost for farmers, but the plot performance has further solidified this finding. Improved soybean stands as well as an economically significant increase in yield have been seen every year for the past five seasons at the plots.
Using an inoculant every year is another worthy investment, Ruden notes, even in a traditional corn and soybean rotation.
Take Special Care of Soybeans
“Soybeans are hungry. Our data has also shown that feeding soybeans is necessary. Beyond phosphorus and potassium, we have seen responses especially to nitrogen and sulfur. Those nutrients should be fed during the crop’s reproductive stages in July and August when the beans start filling out, and the demand for these nutrients peaks” Ruden says.
Not just any form of nitrogen will do, though. Ruden specifies that the nitrogen should be in a stabilized form to be the most effective. Nitrogen losses, even when applied during the mid-growing season, were significant, if the urea or UAN nitrogen source were left untreated.