Heeding Soil and Leaf Sap Tests Could Boost No-Till Soybean Yields

A comparison of No-Till Farmer survey results and soil test data from five states show a need for no-tillers to address micronutrient deficiencies to improve soybean production.

No-Tillers could be leaving as much as $24 per acre on the table by not addressing key soil nutrient deficiencies in soybeans, says an Illinois certified crop adviser.

Results of the 10th annual No-Till Farmer Benchmark Operational Survey provide “an illuminating big picture” when compared to statewide soil test results from A&L Great Lakes Laboratories for five states, says Jim Porterfield, a watershed and water quality consultant based in Martinsville, Ill. The five states are Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.

A&L Labs provides five groupings in statewide soil test reports — very low, low, medium, high and very high. The sum of the percentages of soil nutrient samples that fell in to the “low” to “very low” categories can then be compared to answers from the nutrient practices applied by no-tillers reported for 2017.

Room for Improvement 

For soybeans it appears more than half of respondents to the No-Till Farmer survey aren’t addressing sulfur- and zinc-deficient soils. A&L Labs’ soil test data shows a sharp increase from 2006-2015 when about 65% of the tests suggested deficiencies in sulfur over the five-state region.

Additionally, state by state, boron soil-test levels show 48-77% of soil samples being deficient. The overall average seems to have leveled off in the last decade. But only 17.7% of soybean farmers responding to the No-Till Farmer survey say they’re doing anything about it. Boron is important to prevent pod abortion in soybeans, Porterfield says.

Avoid This Mistake

Soybean farmers don’t seem to be paying as much…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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