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MSPB Management Practices Survey--2016 Results

OsbornBarr, MSPB’s communications contractor, commissioned a survey of Mississippi soybean producers to determine practices they use in producing a crop, and the sources they depend on for production information.

In the following narrative, responses to the 2016 survey are shown, with responses to the same queries in the 2015 survey shown in parentheses.

1,900 (1,900) surveys were distributed by mail to Mississippi soybean producers, and 280 (283) completed surveys were returned. This 14.7% (14.9%) participation rate is above normal for an external survey.

71% (60%) of respondents farm over 1000 acres. 52% (43%) of responding producers have over 1000 soybean acres; thus, 48% (57%) have under 1000 soybean acres. 24% of respondents reported 501-1000 soybean acres both years, and 23% (33%) of the respondents reported less than 500 acres of soybeans.

General Crop Production

66% (69%) of responding producers rotate soybeans with another crop on an annual basis, and 90% (64%) of those growers rotate with corn. Milo and rice are the next most rotated crops with soybeans at 11% (17%) and 19% (14%), respectively.

35% (44%) of the respondents plant in rows that are less than 30 in. wide, while 25% (21%) plant in twin rows that are on 30- to 40-in. centers. 42% (36%) plant on rows that are >30 in. wide. The 38-in. twin row system was the most-used twin-row pattern in both years (24% and 19%). About two-thirds of respondents in both years use narrow or twin rows.

In both years, yield is the trait rated most important by respondents when selecting a variety, with range of maturity groups and specific soil type of a field to be planted to a variety ranking as second and third most important.

95% (96%) of respondents viewed variety selection as the most important factor for increasing soybean yields, while soil sampling at 82% (80%), crop rotation at 76% (74%), and fungicide application at 71% (70%) were also viewed as significant factors to consider for yield increase.

Weed resistance was the most-listed soybean production issue or problem and yield was the next most-listed issue in both years.

77% (74%) of responding growers always apply fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides at the full labeled rate.

Soil Factors

62% (61%) of the respondents always test soil for fertility at least every 3 years, and 57% (59%) collect soil fertility samples on most (76-100%) of their acres.

67% (61%) of the respondents know the amounts of nutrients removed from the soil by their soybean crop.

74% (69%) of the respondents ensure adequate fertility on their soybean acres based on soil test results.

49% (48%) of growers know their soil pH every year.


42% (48%) of the respondents do not irrigate soybeans.

Of those that irrigate, 49% (42%) use PHAUCET/Pipe Planner, 20% (14%) use surge valves, and 37% (31%) use soil moisture sensors.

A low percentage of irrigated producers know the amount of water they are using to irrigate most (81-100%) of their irrigated soybean acreage as indicated by only 16% (8%) who use well or flow meters. 60% (72%) of the irrigators monitor their water use on less than 40% of their irrigated acres.

Insect and Disease Factors

74% (77%) of the respondents check or scout fields for presence of major diseases on a weekly basis, and 82% (83%) check for insects on a weekly basis.

75% (77%) of the weekly scouting is always done by walking the fields.

50% (50%) of the respondents always use scouting practices to make decisions that will manage weed, insect, and disease pests that are present.

58% (51%) of responding growers automatically apply a fungicide to their soybean crop, whereas 42% (49%) apply fungicides only when diseases are present.

56% (59%) of responding producers use a sweep net or drop cloth to make weekly checks for insect presence.

88% (78%) of producers always treat for insects when their numbers reach economic thresholds.

59% (57%) of the respondents use scouting results to choose varieties for next year’s crop.

Nematode Factors

54% (41%) of the respondents do not know if they have nematodes in their fields. Those growers who did know of nematode presence identified soybean cyst, reniform, and root knot nematodes as present in a significant number of fields.

Weed Factors

98% (90%) of respondents use 2 or more modes of action (MOA) when applying herbicides for weed control. 27% (26%) used 3 MOA’s.

77% (71%) of growers use pre-plant or pre-emergence herbicides on more than 50% of their acres, and 66% (61%) use them on more than 75% of their acres.

68% (67%) of responding producers who apply harvest aids or desiccants do so to enhance early harvest. 19% (24%) do not apply harvest aids to any of their soybean acres.

Production Recommendations

87% (86%) of producers who responded are comfortable or very comfortable with recommendations made by agricultural retailers.

Ag Retailers (71% and 74%), MSU-Extension (61% and 66%), Crop Consultants (70% and 64%), and Field Trials (63% both years) are significant sources of information used in making soybean production decisions.

Over half of the responders stated that they need more information on soil fertility (60% both years) and weed management (61% and 56%). The survey respondents indicated a need for more information on disease management (40% and 32%) and irrigation efficiency (37% and 35%).

General Conclusions

90% (64%) of responding producers rotate soybean and corn on an annual basis. Thus, a concerted effort should be directed toward developing the knowledge needed to properly manage this widely-used production system.

About two-thirds of responding producers plant in rows that can be categorized as less than wide (rows <30-in. wide or twin rows). However, a significant number of producers still plant soybeans on wide rows, and the reasons for this are not apparent.

Only about two-thirds of producers are aware of the amount of nutrients removed from the soil by a soybean crop. The awareness of this as an important factor for continued high yields should be increased through extension and industry education efforts.

Because a large percentage of producers are unaware of possible nematode presence in their fields, an increased education effort about sampling soil for nematodes is warranted. This is especially true since disease surveys indicate that SCN is the soybean pest responsible for the greatest yield loss in Midsouth soybean production systems.

The survey results indicate that increased use of tools to improve irrigation efficiency is occurring, but the adoption percentage is still below 50%. Thus, outreach and education efforts must be increased to ensure that information about all irrigation management tools that can increase irrigation efficiency and enhance knowledge of crop water use by irrigated soybeans is available to and adopted by every irrigator.

Greater than 75% of responding producers use timely and accurate scouting to monitor insect and disease pests in soybean.

The vast majority of respondents use economic thresholds to determine if and when to treat for insect infestations. This indicates that continued research is needed to ensure that threshold numbers are adequate and accurate for the various soybean production systems (e.g. irrigated vs. dryland, early-planted vs. late-planted/doublecropped, monocropped vs. rotated) in Mississippi.

Producers have obviously taken heed about the importance of weeds developing resistance to herbicides as indicated by the large majority of respondents who use more than one herbicide mode of action, pre-plant and pre-emergence herbicides, and the full labeled rate of herbicides. Proper use and application of all these factors are recommended to prevent or delay herbicide resistance in weeds.

It is perceived from these results that the use of multiple modes of action in pesticide applications likely pertains mostly to herbicides. Producers must continually be reminded of the importance of this factor in the application of insecticides and fungicides as well. This is especially so since a large percentage of soybean acres are treated for insects each year, and a large percentage of growers automatically apply a fungicide to their soybean crop.

It is obvious that Mississippi soybean producers have a high regard for the information provided and recommendations made by agricultural retailers and crop consultants/advisers. It is thus imperative that the developers of new information and technology engage these information suppliers in educational opportunities that will transfer this new information to them.

As with all surveys, this survey provides only a sampling of production practices and information sources used by Mississippi soybean producers. However, these results do provide a glimpse into what is being done to produce soybeans in the state, and can provide agricultural practitioners with a clue as to what needs more attention and increased educational opportunities.

I personally thank each of the 280 respondents who took the time to complete and return the survey. Hopefully, through this blog and other summaries that will come from the survey results, you can see the value of the information you provided and how it can be used to provide insight into what Mississippi soybean producers are now doing or maybe should be doing to continue the trend of increasing soybean yields in the state.

Click here for the complete survey results.

Composed by Larry G. Heatherly, Jan. 2017,