Helping Iowa's Lower-yielding Soybean Growers Achieve Better Yields

Name and Position/Title:        
Clarke McGrath – Partner program manager, Corn and Soybean Initiative
Greg Tylka – ISU Extension nematologist
Corn & Soybean Initiative Team

Fiscal Year Submitted:             
2011

POW Title and Number:         
100 Corn and Soybean Production

Title: Helping Iowa’s Lower-Yielding Soybean Growers Achieve Better Yields

Issue (Who cares and Why):
Over the last several decades, average soybean yields have steadily increased in Iowa thanks to a combination of better soybean varieties and improved management techniques. Despite this general trend, however, some Iowa farmers have fields where they struggle to achieve today’s higher average yields. In order to assess Iowa’s true soybean yield potential, it is important to target these growers and fields, understand the yield-limiting factors in their fields and help bring their production up to par in an environmentally sound manner.

What Did You Do? (Outputs – these may include educational meetings, demonstrations or research, media, facilitating, partnering)
We developed a three-year research program in collaboration with the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) and the Corn and Soybean Initiative to identify lower-yielding soybean growers fields around the state and best-management practices (BMP’s) that can be applied in these fields. The goal of the research is not only to stabilize soybean yields statewide as a springboard from which to boost Iowa’s overall soybean yield potential, but also to validate use of research-based BMP’s as a key part of the pathway to improved yields, profitability and environmental stewardship.

As part of the research protocol, a team of ISU Extension field agronomists worked with Corn and Soybean Initiative agribusiness partners to identify lower-yielding soybean growers fields. Collaboration with these agribusinesses will continue throughout the project to identify regionally appropriate BMP’s; arrange field days and meetings to discuss the project’s progress; and to share research results more widely with area farmers.

Results (Outcomes – was there an increase in knowledge, new skills learned, new decisions made, new practices implemented, increased profitability, new standards, enhanced quality of life)

The project is a prime example of a productive partnership with the private sector to advance ISU Extension’s mission and message.

As a result of the collaboration, ISA provided $70,000 for the first year of the project (Oct. 2010-2011), and will increase funding to $81,000 for year two (2011-2012).

The funds have already enabled the ISU Extension field agronomist team to spend time and travel on relationship-building efforts with key Corn and Soybean Initiative partners essential not just for the success of this project, but future extension education and outreach to growers. This support has allowed the ISU Extension field agronomist team to cover more territory and spend more time meeting face-to-face with Initiative partners than they could have otherwise.

As a result of the collaborative research, cooperating farmers should achieve higher yields and gain a better understanding of conditions affecting soybean growth and development, as well as the link between sound, research-based agronomic decisions, timely management, environmental stewardship and higher yields.

Growers across Iowa will benefit from the published information obtained from participating farms and from extension meetings highlighting the program. Both Iowa State and the Iowa Soybean Association will benefit from a highly visible program that promotes sound soybean management, increased yields and increased profitability.

Page last updated: June 19, 2011
Page maintained by Julie Honeick, jhoneick@iastate.edu