In 2012, Below and his team at the University of Illinois set up multi-location trials in their home state to analyze the value of management factors that contribute to soybean yield.2 What they discovered were six “secrets” that are critical for achieving high-yield goals:

1. Weather. While weather is out of anyone’s control, Below’s team found that it influences the success of all other management factors. Management practices that promote strong root development, such as fertility, enhanced seed emergence and disease control, may help mitigate its negative effects.

2. Improve soil fertility. Below believes that soil fertility is one of the most important, yet often overlooked components of high-yield soybean production. Improved soil fertility can be managed through balanced crop nutrition and fertilizer placement technologies. Below’s 2012 research revealed an additional 4.3 bu./acre with this secret.

3. Maximize genetic yield potential. Similar to corn hybrids, Below believes that proper selection of soybean varieties is crucial for success in a management intensive, high-yield production system. Below’s 2012 research revealed an additional 3.2 bu/A with this secret.

4. Protect yield potential and maximize seed size. “Disease and insect control is imperative for producing any crop,” Below says. “By using a combination of a fungicide and insecticide, critical soybean leaf area is maintained for intercepting sunlight and maximizing seed fill.” Below’s 2012 research revealed an additional 3.6 bu./acre with this secret.

5. Enhance seed emergence and vigor. Through the use of fungicidal, insecticidal and plant growth regulator seed treatments, early season growth and vigor will be protected from yield robbing stresses such as disease and insects.Below’s 2012 research revealed an additional 2.6 bu./acre with this secret.

6.  Utilize narrow-row spacing. Below believes there are distinct advantages to planting narrow rows, specifically 20-in. rows. This would allow precision fertilizer placement in a corn-soybean rotation. “Planting soybean on these same rows might take advantage of the previous year’s corn fertility practices. Furthermore, 20-in. rows improve light interception and ultimately provide a good foundation for maximizing yields,” he says. Below’s 2012 research revealed an additional 2.1 bu./acre with this secret.

Woodyard suggests that growers interested in high-yield soybean production should put together a season-long road map for their acres. “Early in the season, growers should set aside time to develop a full-season plan on how they’re going to get the most out of every acre,” says Woodyard.

Get more information on Below and his research. 



1 Data compiled from 2010, 2011, and 2012. BASF (16) and university (30) field trials: BASF (AR-2, IA, IL -3, LA-3, MN-3, NC, NY-2, & TN), UI-3, UK, UMn, UMo-2, UN-2, UW-2, ISU-3, KSU-2, UMd, MSU-2, OSU-2, SIU-3, NDSU, SDSU, Purdue-3. All treatments included adjuvants as required. BASF Residual program: Optill herbicide, Optill PRO herbicide, Sharpen herbicide, Sharpen herbicide + Zidua herbicide or Sharpen herbicide + Prowl H2O herbicide. BASF fungicide: Headline® fungicide in 2010 and Priaxor fungicide in 2011 and 2012. BASF insecticide: Respect® insecticide in 2010 and Fastac™ insecticide in 2011 and 2012. Zidua herbicide is not registered for use on soybeans.

2 On-farm research referenced may be sponsored or supported by BASF Crop Protection.