Four things to consider when planning your soybean crop

Written by Lisa Eastley on Oct 15 2014

Category: Grow Grain

Think about crop rotation, fertilizer, nutrient levels and weed control before you even book your seed.

Here are four things to consider as you start planning next year's soybean crop:

Crop rotation

For many years, farmers had to plant soybeans in their wheat stubble. Today, we have a lot more options for controlling Roundup Ready canola volunteers, so more and more farmers are planting soybeans in their canola field. Those options include tank mixing Heat® or Valtera® herbicides with your pre-seed application of Roundup, or swapping your Roundup Ready canola for an InVigor variety.


Soybeans require fertilizer, and they have a particularly big need for potassium (K) and phosphorus (P). Lots of farmers are spreading fertilizer in their canola and wheat stubble now, and then working it into the soil. This method goes against everything we know about fertilizing canola and wheat, where we band it and try to get it close to the plant. But soybeans are good scavengers and prefer to seek nutrients from the soil. Spread your fertilizer now to minimize work in the spring.

Nutrient levels

Soil sample

Soil sampling is one way to manage nutrient levels and be a good steward of the land. It helps you match your fertilizer application to the crop’s needs, minimizing run-off, saving costs and keeping your plants healthy.

If your field already has huge amounts of phosphorous and nitrogen, you don’t want to pile more on. Soybeans are less inclined to produce nodules during the growth stage if they can get all the nitrogen they need from the soil. Later, when they flower and begin to fill pods, you’ll need to top-dress the soil because the plants won’t be able to fix nitrogen for themselves.

Annual soil sampling will also reveal trends in soil nutrient levels. Are you trending up or down? Are you applying more than your crop is using, or is your crop using more than you’re applying? It pays to take a proactive approach to nutrients, because by the time your crop shows symptoms of deficiency, it’s too late to stop the resulting yield loss.

Fertilizer is quickly becoming the most expensive crop input, so you don’t want to apply more than is necessary. Almost every Cargill location offers soil sampling, and the amount of money you can save on fertilizer more than pays for the cost of the test.

Weed control

We’re enjoying a window of nice weather and warm nighttime temperatures in Manitoba, which means weeds are actively growing and able to absorb herbicide. Take this opportunity to do a post-harvest clean up of your fields. Some guys are just spraying glyphosate to keep their crop options open next year, while others are spraying HEAT to get rid of Roundup Ready canola volunteers.

If there isn’t a lot of moisture during a crop year, herbicide residues can pose a hazard to next season’s soybean crop. That won’t be the case in Manitoba! We’ve had more than enough moisture this year, so herbicide residues won’t have a chance to linger in the soil.

Now is the perfect time of year to talk to your Cargill agronomist about the challenges you faced this year and your goals for the year. We can help you assess your fields and choose the best varieties for next season. Contact your local Cargill Representative today.


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