Benefits of Maintaining Soybean Acres

Benefits of Maintaining Soybean Acres

Economic and environmental benefits of maintaining soybean acres add up, say Iowa Soybean Association leaders.

Iowa farmers who are leaders in the Iowa Soybean Association point out that there are tremendous advantages to planting equal amounts of soybeans and corn on farms today. Crop experts agree pointing out the benefits to yields, soil and profits from rotating corn with soybeans instead of planting continuous corn.

GOOD REASONS TO ROTATE: Iowa soybean association leaders say there are definite economic and environmental benefits to maintaining a corn-soybean rotation instead of planting continuous corn. Rotating the two crops leads to better yields, better soil and profits.

Ed Anderson, Iowa Soybean Association senior director of supply and production systems, says crop rotations of soybeans and corn benefit both crops. "Studies show us that corn yields are higher following soybeans. The advantage of a soybean-corn rotation still centers on yield. The positive impact is probably due to several factors," Anderson says. "Soybeans break disease, insect and weed cycles and provide nitrogen fertilizer for corn the following year."

Soybeans following corn this year could equal or exceed profit from continuous corn

In addition, the March 28 issue of the "Advance" newsletter, a publication of the ISA On-Farm Network, points out that maintaining a two-year soybean-corn rotation can also lead to energy savings during production and when handling, drying and conditioning of stored grain simply due to few bushels being handled. The rotation also allows farmers to spread out spring and summer fieldwork and harvest over a longer period of time.

According to University of Illinois estimates, soybeans following corn this year could equal or exceed the profits from continuous corn, depending on the productivity of the land. Based on early April commodity prices, the difference could exceed $30 per acre in favor of soybeans.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

Iowa soybean acres held steady in 2011 and 2012 at 9.35 million acres, according to USDA statistics. The March 28 USDA Prospective Plantings Report said Iowa farmers intend to plant 50,000 more acres of soybeans this year and the same amount of corn, 14.2 million acres, as in 2012.

Weather and prices this spring could end up convincing farmers to plant more soybeans

Weather and economic factors could convince farmers in Iowa and the Upper Midwest to plant more soybeans than planned. A frigid early spring, continued drought conditions in most of the state, falling corn prices and history are all working in favor of soybeans, crop and economic experts say. Acres devoted to continuous corn or corn on corn will likely dwindle in the weeks ahead, some market analysts say.

Chad Hart, Iowa State University Extension grain economist, believes there's a good chance soybean acres statewide could top 10 million acres once planters this spring's planting season is finished. "Right now the agronomic, economic and climate factors are shifting (Iowa) more toward a 50/50 (corn and soybean) rotation. Things are pointing in a good direction for soybeans," Hart adds.

As farmers ready planters and fields this spring, many believe a traditional 50/50 rotation is better. If soybeans are given proper credit for increases in corn yields, Wayne Fredericks of rural Osage says it pays to stick to a two-year corn-soybean rotation. "I was apprehensive that I was leaving money on the table until I wrapped my mind around the figures," says Fredericks, who is treasurer of the Iowa Soybean Association. To learn more, visit this link.
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