With help from a United Soybean Board grant, the LSU AgCenter is looking at best management options to maximize soybean yield in Louisiana.

The three-year, multi-state grant includes collaborators from Louisiana, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan and Minnesota. The grant allows researchers to evaluate the impacts of management practices commonly employed in soybean production on yield in the selected states, according to LSU agronomist Theophilus Udeigwe. James Board of the LSU AgCenter School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences is the project leader for Louisiana.

Udeigwe is carrying out his part of the study at the AgCenter’s Northeast Research Station in St. Joseph along with other Louisiana locations at Crowley, Baton Rouge and Macon Ridge.

“Basically, we are trying to address some management issues in soybean production in order to determine the best combination of production practices and inputs for the farmers to use,” Udeigwe said.  

The cultural practices the scientists are observing may seem simple, Udeigwe explained, but they could really make a different in the bottom line of the grower’s operations.Things that growers tend to take for granted, such as seeding rates and row spacing, could be costing them without their being aware.

“The project was designed with 14 management systems and treatments, each consisting of a combination of production practices and inputs such as row spacing, seeding rate, seed treatment, seed inoculation, fungicide application, soil fertilization and foliar fertilization.”

Results from the first two years of the study were analyzed and presented with the aid of demonstration plots at the LSU AgCenter’s 2011 Northeast Research Station field day on June 28. 

“The 14 management systems and treatments evaluated were ranked by yield, and the top- yielding as well as the bottom treatments were examined,” Udeigwe said.

The findings from the study showed the management practices that consistently led to high yield over the two-year period included narrow row spacing, seed treatment and seeding rate. These three factors are important to the grower’s profitability when used in combination.

The factors led to fields producing more than 65 bushels per acre of soybeans over the past two years of the study compared to the state average of 43 acres according to the 2010 Louisiana Summary of Agriculture.

“So what our findings show overall is that planting narrow 15-20 inches with a rate between 100,000-140,000 seed per acre with fungicide and insecticide treatment could lead to a better crop yield,” Udeigwe said.

Each location of the study is using the same techniques to see if there are differences when the same management programs are used.

The growing conditions are a little better than 2010 when it was drier. And the 2011 growing season’s insect situation is a lot better than last year.

“We sprayed many times last year, but so far we have not had to spray and only expect to spray few times this year,” said Udeigwe.