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A Supplement to the OSU Extension Agronomic Crops Team Online C.O.R.N. Newsletter ~ This version for Ohio’s Country Journal is by Harold Watters Harold Watters can be reached in the Logan County Extension office, at or by phone 937-599-4227.

Growing more soybeans in Ohio The 2012 Conservation Tillage

Conference in Ada, Ohio was another success. We had 924 register for the event, and this year with no snow or ice storm they all showed up. Moving the date of the event was necessary due to Ohio Northern University’s change from a quarter system to semesters. Expect the 2013 Conservation Tillage Conference to be held March 12 and 13. Once again for the Soybean School,

we invited specialists to help Ohio farm- ers understand how to make more soybean yield. The high points:

• Soybeans are not corn. Corn is a C-3 plant and soybeans are

C-4 – meaning that corn is more efficient at producing and moving sugars. Soybeans are legumes and live in a

symbiotic relationship with a bacteria that produces nitrogen, and soybeans use a lot – perhaps 500 lb N/A. • Plant early – April 20 to May 10 to

take advantage of sunlight. We want to cover the ground surface

with plants before they start flowering about June 25. • By planting early we gain an extra node which is where seeds form. An

Adaptive Management for Nutrients I searched several places for a good def-

inition of adaptive management – the NRCS term for planning, and then reacting to changing conditions in an agricultural setting. Even NRCS does not have a good definition that I could find, until I stum- bled across a Bay Farms On-Farm Network website. This captures my understanding of the term well. • Adaptive management allows farm-

ers to evaluate nutrient recommenda- tions in cooperation with their peers, sci- entists, agricultural service providers, and consultants to make field-specific improvements that: 1) generate significant reductions in

nutrient runoff, and 2) increase profits. • Farmers typically make nutrient man-

agement decisions based on a generalized recommendation (algorithm) that is not field specific and that is largely disconnect- ed from economic analysis.” During winter meetings this year we

have discussed with growers their fertilizer application practices. And they are all over the board, with some never using a soil test, to some applying even when soil test levels are high, to others who would like to reduce their applications but their advisor suggests they still need crop replacement, and of course we found many who apply as needed according to recommendations. I asked Greg LaBarge to give a presenta-

Figure 1. Ohio P Soil Tests from the years 2001, 2005 and 2010.

extra node can make five to six more beans and that is two to three bushels per acre more yield. Modern genetics flower a week ear-

lier than older varieties and the repro- ductive stages continue for a longer period of time. And then a challenge. We all

remember our lessons about the ratio between corn and soybeans – it’s 3:1 right? Meaning that if we grow 150 bu/A of corn then we expect to grow 50 bu/A of soybeans. Not any more; now the ratio is about 3.4 or 3.5 to 1. Which means that corn is

Figure 2.

tion on adaptive management at the recent Conservation Tillage Conference, in Ada, Ohio – he has been following the Phosphorus discussions over the past year for OSU Extension and has a grasp of where we need to go. First to implement this adaptive man-

agement for phosphorus use for agronom- ic crops we must soil test, then apply fertil- izer according to those test results. Ohio farmers do not test every field

every year. Typically we sample once every three years. But Figure 1 gives a snap shot of Soil Test P results across Ohio. From the chart of data provided by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), Ohio has a large majority of fields that are at or above the Critical Test level as suggested by the Tri-State Fertility Guide – 74%. Fields above the Critical level need at most maintenance applications of phosphorus. Maintenance applications are deter-

mined by the equation: • Pounds of P2O5 to apply = YP (yield

potential) times CR (crop removal). For corn grain crop removal is 0.37

lb/Bu – silage 3.3 lb/ton, for soybean crop removal is 0.80 lb/Bu,

and for wheat crop removal is 0.63 lb/Bu

for grain or 0.72 lb/Bu if both grain and straw are removed. For those 26% of fields above 50 ppm

soil test P, then no application is really needed until P levels fall below either 30 ppm for corn and soybeans or 40 ppm for wheat. Or if your test falls on the lower side of the chart, for 26% of the fields, then a build up applications is needed. This can be managed as suggested over a three-year period or can be lengthened as needed due to price of fertilizer, crop rotations, or even for environmental reasons. But continue to resample and double check results against the plan every three years, and then modi- fy the plan if necessary. The work that was used to develop the Tri-State Fertility Guide used conservative

22 Crops • Ohio’s Country Journal • • April 2012

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estimates of the nutrients necessary to pro- duce a crop under Ohio, Indiana and Michigan conditions. University researchers are as opposed to yield loss as you, so these recommendations should be valid for nearly every situation. But some producers have noted that their soil test results have increased over the years using the recommendations strictly. I will point out to those growers that they did not use adaptive management techniques for man- aging Soil Test P – again the process over time would be to sample, test, apply, retest and then modify the application as needed over time. How can we use repeated soil tests, and

crop removal rates to plan for future fertilizer applications? As seen in Figure 2, on a Nappanee soil

we begin with a soil test P of 112 ppm. We grow corn and soybeans in rotation and

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put 26 lbs of P2O5 through the planter. We sample every four years and find that our soil test P results have fallen 24 ppm. So how long does it take for our soil test P to fall to 30ppm? Seven years, or almost 10 years if

we continue to apply some P with our corn crop. And keep in mind that 30 ppm is the

top of our maintenance range. It runs from15 to 30 ppm over which we just apply crop removal. Of course, we continue to soil test to

make sure that our calculations hold true, other wise we make adjustments – that’s adaptive management. Harold Watters, Extension Field Agronomist, works

out of the Logan County Extension office and can be reached at or by phone at 937 599- 4227. Further information can be found on our Agronomic Crops Team webpage:

getting a little more efficient than soy- beans over time. Some other key points: choose high

yielding genetics, plant in narrow rows, use long crop rotations – 3 to 4 years is best, and get pests under control. Our plan is to post the presentations

from several of the sessions on the Conservation Tillage Conference website: Those from the Soybean School and the Corn University will be included. See if you can meet the challenge of improving soybean yields in Ohio.

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