Hang On and Be Prepared
Illinois soybean farmers who were unable to attend the Illinois Soybean Association’s (ISA) 2020 Soybean Summit can still benefit from the soybean checkoff-funded event’s presentations. Below are some of the top takeaways presented by speakers that day.
- Allocate resources where they will make the largest difference to your bottom line.
Plant nutrition, time, money. John McGillicuddy, McGillicuddy Corrigan Agronomics, says all of these are necessary for producing a profitable soybean crop, but the resources aren’t unlimited. Prioritize finite inputs and evaluate how they can impact soybean yield.
Many different philosophies on maximizing yield exist, including ideas for increasing flowers, nodes and/or pods, but the most important philosophy is the one that increases soybeans on a specific farm. That’s why farmers are encouraged to perform on-farm research. What works for some may not be the best strategy for others. Evaluating how new ideas work in specific fields is key to achieving better yield and profitability.
- Prepare to overcome the many challenges 2020 holds.
Sara Wyant, president of Agri-Pulse Communications, notes unforeseen market impacts, consumer perceptions, workforce development, unpredictable growing climates and many more challenges face soybean farmers in 2020. The key to overcoming these obstacles is to remember that while farming is a lifestyle, it is also a business. Marketing, succession planning and agronomic plans must encompass this fact. Profitability is the name of the game. The way to expand it is to view all transactions through the lens of return on investment and moving your business forward.
- Start clean. Stay clean.
The easiest weed to control is the one that never emerges. GROWMARK’s David Powell says weed management is becoming more difficult. A major concern for soybean farmers should be waterhemp. Waterhemp can germinate during the spring, summer and fall and produce a large amount of seed that can be resistant to herbicide treatments. This particular weed can show up in new locations already resistant to herbicide treatments.
To control waterhemp, use a residual herbicide prior to planting and then use an effective post herbicide that works with the planted soybean trait. Also use multiple modes of action in the tank for best control (pre-groups 3, 5, 14 and 15; post-groups 4 and 10).
- Conduct on-farm research.
Is the latest product going to give you extra bushels? How will it impact your return on investment? The best way to answer questions likes these is to conduct on-farm research. Every field and situation is unique, so what may—or may not work—could be different.
McGillicuddy says set up a test trial on 10-20 acres to try a different fertilizer, weed management strategy or new product. Capture the data necessary to evaluate the ROI on the farm. It’s also important to replicate these tests in a few different geographies or in a few different years before expanding the agronomic practice to the entire operation. Find details about setting up successful trials from Todd Steinacher at ILSoyAdvisor.com.
- Surround yourself with a trusted team.
Whether it is a banker, lawyer, agronomist or seed dealer, or all of the above, farmers should build relationships with experts they trust to provide input regarding difficult management and agronomic decisions. A trusted team of advisers can offer different perspectives and experiences that will be valuable to each individual operation.