What Soybeans Work Best in Fields with Variable Soil Types?

In a recent on-line conversation, a farmer wrote that his agronomist recommended planting offensive soybeans in better yielding zones and defensive varieties across hill tops and in poorly drained areas within the same field. He wondered if anyone else had tried this strategy and what they thought of it.

Another farmer commented that he thinks it’s better to find a good variety and plant it everywhere because everything does well on good ground and nothing does well on bad ground. Someone else wrote that they had purchased blended beans (two varieties in a bag) to help increase yields.

Since I definitely have an opinion on this topic – and research to back me up – I’ve decided to use today’s blog post as a means to share with you what we’ve seen work.

I definitely do NOT agree with the member who plants just the “good variety” on all of his ground. We’ve proven over and over again that soybeans like Latham® L2285R, L2635R and L3157R are much better suited to lighter soils (poorer ground) where their taller plant height and growthy characteristics are a definite advantage.

Blended Soybeans

We have customers who request blended soybeans, but to make this work, we take two soybean lines that are very close in maturity (for example, L2082R and L2085R). One is usually a defensive soybean and the other is an offensive one. Seed size is another consideration as the two varieties need to be to as close as possible in size.

Usually, blending works best when you have a problem within a certain area like Iron Chlorosis. Iron Chlorosis can be severe in parts of a field and not a problem at all in other parts of that same field. Blending two soybeans together – one that has great IDC tolerance and one that has average tolerance but is much higher yielding – has worked well in the areas where IDC is a problem. The IDC-tolerant bean will take over in areas where IDC is a problem; the more offensive bean yields better in those areas where it is not, thereby giving the farmer a higher average yield over his entire field.

Variable rate planting could work well in a similar situation but would be even more accurate as you can plant ALL of the IDC-tolerant soybeans in the tough spots and plant just the higher-yielding soybean variety in the other areas. Of course, Iron Chlorosis is just one example of the potential need for variable rate planting. Other possibilities would be planting your taller soybeans on the lighter soils (hills) and planting shorter (more offensive-minded) beans in the bottoms or better soils. You could even do something with SCN-infested areas.

There are lots of possibilities down the road with variable rate planting. And, that’s one thing we’ll be studying as part of Latham’s trademark Seed2Soil® program. Participants in our Seed2Soil program are using “Learning Blocks” to try and obtain the right populations for certain areas of the field, as well as to learn where to place offense and defensive varieties.