Soybeans are not the main crop at the Riegel farm, near Washington, Mo., but Steve Riegel applied the same principles to that crop as the family does to its dairy operation. Not taking any management practices for granted, he set out to confirm the value of each crop input, starting with seed treatments.

“In several years of side-by-side field tests, we realized a 5-6-bu./acre increase from fields planted with treated seed versus non-treated seed,” he says. “The consistently better emergence from the treated seed allowed us to cut back on plant populations slightly. We also saw the beans get off to a healthier start and look greener.”

Fungicide is another input that has consistently proven its worth to the 2011 Missouri Soybean Yield Contest winner in the conventional category. “We’ve seen an average of 5-6 bu./acre more from the fields where we use a fungicide, and as much as 11 bu./acre more in some years. At today’s prices, just 1 bu. extra pays for the cost of the application.”

Early weed control was a big challenge this year, he says. “Any weeds at all will interfere with yield. But this spring was very wet here, which made it hard to get into fields to make our first post-emergence herbicide application.”

That was one of the reasons Riegel didn’t enter the yield contest this season. The lack of rain throughout the summer lowered his expectations for this year’s crop, as well. But he’s already looking ahead to next season.

“This past summer we cleaned out the sludge at the bottom of our lagoon and applied that on our fields, so I expect our overall fertility should be great for next year’s crop,” he says.