Pro-Germinator, the first choice among phosphorus fertilizers.

Soybean Production

Benefits of Using a Starter Fertilizer for Soybean Production


Starter fertilizer can help boost soybean production for better yields.

Earlier planting of soybeans can give growers a jump on production. This approach allows the plant more time to capture light and accrue carbon, nitrogen and other elements necessary for producing seed during reproductive phases. The result is that these soybeans will out-yield later plantings. For instance, Iowa State University researchers have found growers can gain three to four bushels an acre if planting starts the last week of April or the first week of May.

Growers should consider a number of factors when planting early, though. Soybeans don’t like to sit in cold, wet soils. In fact, they are more subject to damage from cold conditions than corn, so producers should specifically monitor soil conditions and the weather forecast for 48 hours after planting. If unfavorable weather is projected, growers should consider adjusting their planting date. The ideal soil temperature for germination and emergence is between 77° and 86° F, but soybeans will germinate at soil temperatures of 50° F.

“Yield data shows that soybeans can take a slight hit in stand without affecting yields – so the advantage of early planting can prevail,” says Dr. Jerry Wilhm, senior research manager with Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers. “Careful in-furrow application of phosphorus and potassium can help during these early conditions by encouraging root development. The roots will then grow nodules that fix nitrogen from the soil.” Nodules on healthy soybeans form following infection by the nodulating bacteria around the V2 stage.

Prescription Application Based on Trials

AgroLiquid research shows that row-applied fertilizer applications increased no-till soybean yields – almost 5 bu/A – over a no-fertilizer check (NCRS11-307). Researchers here used Pro-Germinator™ + Sure-K™ + Micro500™. Pro-Germinator™ contains a high quality, dual form of phosphate fertilizer with multi-forms of nitrogen, while Sure-K™ is a chloride- and hydroxide-free potassium fertilizer.

In permanent plot rotation trials, researchers compared liquid to conventional dry potash (0-0-62). A combination of Sure-K™ and Micro500™ yielded 1.5 to 4.5 more bu/A than two different rates of dry product (NCRS11-714).

AgroLiquid’s P and K Recommendations for Early Soybeans 

Apply 1 to 2 gallons/A Pro-Germinator™ + Sure-K™ plus (based on soil test K findings), along with 1 to 2 quarts/A Micro500™. “Root zone banding in 30-inch row beans can result in seedling injury at rates above 3 gal/A in light-textured soils,” cautions Wilhm. “The risk goes down in 15-inch rows, and there is little chance of seedling injury with soybean fertilizer programs in drilled soybeans.”

If there is a need for more than 3 gallons/A of fertilizer in 30-inch row beans, growers can apply the Pro-Germinator™ and Micro500™ at planting (3 gal/A max in light soils), then the balance of Sure-K™ as a foliar application.

Experts agree that soil testing is a key component. Iowa researchers recommend basing soybean fertilizer applications on soil test levels and estimates of nutrient removal by the crop. To help with those calculations, they note that a bushel of soybeans removes approximately 3.8 pounds of N, 0.8 pounds of P and 1.5 pounds of K each season.

Micronutrients at Planter Time

Micronutrient Replacement at Planter Time for Better Corn and Soybean Production

Planting time is the perfect opportunity to replace micronutrients in the soil.

With crop yields continually on the rise, nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are being used up in growers’ soils—but so are micronutrients. Planting time is the perfect opportunity to replenish soil nutrient supplies.

Micronutrient deficiencies can be difficult to recognize because they resemble other problems. For instance in corn, manganese deficiency produces yellowing, which can look like a sulfur deficiency or even be confused with nitrogen deficiency. Often tissue testing can determine the cause, but it is best to have a good soil test so any problems can be addressed ahead of seeing yellow leaves.

The most heavily used micronutrients by grass crops such as corn are zinc and boron. Zinc deficiency symptoms are often localized and result from specific soil conditions: high pH, free carbonates and eroded topsoil with subsoil exposed.

Manganese is important for soybeans because so many of the upper Midwest soils are short on it. Often in the summer, manganese shortages cause soybean fields to take on a yellow cast. (Note that while manganese deficiencies can cause problems, researchers have proven that recent yellow flashes appearing in some fields can be traced to a glyphosate breakdown product.

What to Use and How
Planting is usually the best time to apply micronutrients because it is easier to prevent a problem than correct one. If you see symptoms, the damage is already done and yield losses have already occured. Roots are the best avenue to feed a crop, and putting some nutrients in the root zone at planting can usually make up for shortages in the soil.

At Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer’s 710-acre North Central Research Station, experts conduct replicated trials with a variety of crops and nutrients. A strong performer is Micro500, which contains five main micros: zinc, manganese, iron, copper and boron. Numerous tests show that Micro500 increases corn yields from five to nearly 20 bu/A, depending on the situation. These nutrients are synergistic. Growers get better uptake and response from a micronutrient in Micro500 than if they apply an equal volume of a nutrient alone. In addition, having this combination available is helpful in pockets of a field where a grower might be unaware that a particular nutrient is lacking. Trials show that AgroLiquid micronutrients perform better than dry micros because applicators can place them in a root zone band (to the side and below the seed). Products also offer better results compared with other conventional EDTA-chelated micronutrients.

In corn, yields have shown the greatest increase with a combination of Pro-Germinator (a dual-form phosphate fertilizer with multi-form nitrogen), Sure-K (a chloride- and hydroxide-free potassium fertilizer) and Micro500. In one trial, this combination produced 213.8 bu/A (NCRS 11-715).

In soybeans, a program using the same three products generated a yield increase of 57.7 bu/A harvested. Research trials at the North Central Research Station have not only shown the benefits of using micronutrients on corn and soybeans, but other crops from asparagus to wheat also require balanced nutrition.  Research shows Micro-500 and the other MicroLink products are necessary for balanced nutrition and optimal yields.

The corn and soybean micronutrient studies are found in the 2011 Research Report, to see the most recent studies, refer to the 2012 Research Report.