Progressive Farmer December 2015 : Page-22

SOYBEANS Some of the research Cerny tracks can be a game changer. For instance, Shawn Conley’s research shows that soybeans continue to take up nutrients beyond the R6 growth stage. Conley is a University of Wisconsin soybean specialist. “Soybean nutrient partitioning research finds that today’s soybeans are reproductive for longer periods,” says Conley. “And, soybeans spend 10 to 14 days more in the reproductive stage [when yields are determined] and one less week in the vegetative stage than they used to.” That means growers need to be more diligent in applying phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to their soybean crop and more cautious with tillage and residue management, Conley adds. “The plant has a higher harvest index, which means they [growers] are taking off more grain and leaving behind less residue. This also means with increased yields and increased removal, they need to be carefully watching maintenance levels to make sure they are not shorting themselves on fertilizer and the resulting yield,” he says. FEED THE CROP . Cerny says he’s paying “more attention than ever” to fertility and the yield and agronomic records he’s accumulated over the past 22 years. Ironically, those details reveal that the most fertile grids aren’t always the highest yielding. “High fertility grids may have a host of other issues like drainage, soil type and tree lines,” he notes. “I don’t scrimp on inputs that proved themselves in the past,” Cerny notes. He’s not cutting back on P and K, as some management experts recommend to farmers in lean times. Although potash is Cerny’s primary fertilizer in strip-till beans, his farm records show 40 parts per million of phosphorus is the best level for his soybeans. He applies 100 to 175 pounds per acre of K plus DAP and some nitrogen, as indicated by soil tests. No-till and strip-till minimize his overhead and moderate variable weather’s impact with good soil structure and adequate tiling to preserve yields.” He’s also learned a lot about soil structure on the 3,000 acres of custom strip-till and harvesting he carries out over a wide range of fertility systems, genetic packages and agronomic approaches. “It’s like free research,” he says. ⦁ Getting innovative with strip tillage is helping Mike Cerny trim costs and reach the yield goals on his Wisconsin farm. Crop rotation is enormously valuable in breaking soybean disease and pest cycles, Cerny says. It’s the logic behind wheat as a third crop in his rotation. Although wheat is less profitable, it adds profits to his soybeans. He adds further value to it with a custom seed-cleaning business for public varieties. “Crop rotation can impact grain yield from 0 to 30%,” says Joe Lauer, University of Wisconsin agronomist. Although Lauer’s research only tracks the influence of rotation on corn yields, he’s convinced it greatly reduces soybean disease. T H E P R O G R E S S I V E FA R M E R / D E C E M B E R 2 015 ▶ YOUR FARM 22

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