For me, every spring brings excitement and cautious optimism. I’m eager to start fieldwork and to get the crops in the ground, yet I know I’ll face challenges outside of my control this spring and throughout the year. As the year unfolds, and these challenges appear, I address them using my strategic management plan. Yes, strategic management plan sounds very formal, but I suspect each of you do the same thing. You make decisions based on your objectives, your resources, your constraints, and your ability to affect change and the desired outcome.
Using these same criteria, the farmers who oversee the investments of our soy checkoff, both nationally and here in Mississippi, create and follow strategic plans to guide investment decisions. The Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board (MSPB) met in February to review and update its plan to maximize profit opportunities for Mississippi soybean farmers. MSPB’s plan contains strong themes of identifying and solving production problems; discovering and developing new opportunities; forming partnerships to leverage funds; communicating research findings to Mississippi farmers; and promoting career opportunities to the next generation of soybean researchers and industry-support personnel. By keeping these themes in mind, MSPB is working to maximize the impact of each soybean farmer’s checkoff dollar.
MSPB recently prioritized the state’s soy production challenges based on the issues that pose the greatest threats to Mississippi farmers. We used this information when reviewing proposed research projects to minimize or eliminate those threats that impact our soybean yields. A few projects underway include:
- Managing weed-control issues, such as resistance issues and strategies to control volunteer plants of herbicide-resistant crops in soybean fields.
- Monitoring the location of foliar diseases, such as rust, and notifying farmers in time to make treatment decisions.
- Identifying conservation measures and management practices to produce the maximum profit per acre. This includes reducing irrigation water use in order to slow the drawdown of the alluvial aquifer and lower irrigation costs and energy usage.
Click here for a summary of this year’s research projects.
Be assured, as we achieve results from these projects, they will be posted to our website www.mssoy.org. MSPB knows that the checkoff investment in research we fund is only successful if we get the lessons we learn into your hands.
Farmers must properly handle treated seed to protect their profitability
Seed treatments play an instrumental role in controlling early-season diseases and insects. However, seed treatment products turn seed into a material that must be handled and treated differently than untreated seed if not planted to produce a crop.
While it may seem harmless to throw your extra treated soybean seed in the bin after planting or a load headed to the elevator, your export customers disagree. These brightly colored seeds protect your crop, but can pose a threat to your profitability if mixed with soybeans you harvested. For example, if treated seed shows up in a shipment of U.S. soybeans to China, customers there will reject the entire load.
Last year more than 87 percent of Mississippi’s soybean crop went to the export market. Mississippi soybean farmers need to protect the integrity of their crop by properly handling and disposing of treated seed. Failure to take the proper precautions with treated seed could jeopardize U.S. soy exports and soybean farmers’ profitability.
Farmers can prevent this potential problem by doing a few simple things. After planting this spring, carefully inspect and thoroughly clean gravity boxes, truck beds, wagons and equipment that carry treated seed. Most importantly, do not throw your extra bags of treated seed in with the soybeans you harvested last fall.
If you find yourself with left over bags of treated soybean seed, contact your seed dealer to see if you can return them. Some seed companies will accept returns of treated seed, while others will offer guidelines on proper disposal. The Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board offers these tips and suggestions on how to handle leftover treated seed as a service to you.
1. Green Manure Crops
Planting treated seed on fallow or otherwise unused parcels of land provides a cheap, safe and effective method for disposing of small amounts of treated seed. Care should be taken to ensure not to overplant in any one area so that a labeled rate for any of the treatment crop protection products is not exceeded on that area. This is likely the best and preferred method for disposal of treated seed when you follow the guidelines listed below:
- Use an acceptable seeding rate (do not double or triple plant).
- Plant seed deeper than 1 inch.
- Immediately incorporate seed that are broadcast.
2. Enlist a Valid Disposal Agent
Contact and work through a disposal agent that has valid and necessary national and local environmental permits to accept and dispose of treated seed. Develop a contract with the disposal agent to ensure proper conduct during the disposal process.
3. Incineration or Sanitary Landfill Waste Management Facility
These entities generally have the required environmental permits. This may be an expensive approach, especially with large amounts of seed. The sanitary landfill option may require special packaging. This method requires determining if the treated seed is either normal solid waste or hazardous waste.
4. Incineration for Power
The cost relative to the above two options should be lower since the seed will be converted to energy for sale by the incineration facility. The high-temperature burning used by these facilities does a thorough job of incineration. The deliverer of treated seed should ensure that these facilities have the required permits for handling waste materials.
5. Wildlife Habitat Plantings
You could also plant extra seed to be used for wildlife habitat. The key word here is “plant.” Don’t just spread treated seed for possible use as wildlife feed. Unless planted, treated seed could be hazardous to wildlife.
Things Not To Do
- Never burn treated seed in a stove used in the home or farm shop.
- Never compost treated seed.
For definitive guidelines and details for the disposal of pesticide-treated seeds, view the following articles and information sources.
- The International Seed Trade Federation
- The Center for Integrated Pesticide Management: Article 1 and Article 2
- Syngenta Environmental Stewardship. Seed treated with Syngenta active ingredients such as mefenoxam and fludioxonil (ApronMaxx) and ApronMaxx + thiamethoxam (CruiserMaxx) are not classified as hazardous wastes and are subject to solid waste regulations at the state and local levels.
The information you need to make a decision
Many soybean farmers struggle with the decision of whether or not to apply nitrogen to their soybean fields. The wide acceptance of the theory that nitrogen fixation and residual nitrogen in the soil may not be enough to maximize soybean yields has influenced many researchers across the U.S. to test its validity. Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board’s research and technology transfer coordinator, Larry Heatherly, Ph.D., has analyzed the results of this research and has compiled a list of guidelines for soybean farmers to follow.
- Soybeans planted in a normal time frame (April-May) do not respond profitably to application of preplant or “starter” nitrogen fertilizer.
- In late plantings, and especially those following a small grain, applying preplant nitrogen fertilizer at < 50 lbs. nitrogen per acre may increase soybean yields and profits at sites with low residual soil nitrogen. Farmers should take current commodity and nitrogen prices into consideration when making this decision to ensure the decision will be profitable.
- Farmers desiring to maximize yields from irrigated plantings on soils with low residual soil nitrogen should consider applying 20 to 25 lbs. of nitrogen per acre when pods begin to set. Irrigate following surface nitrogen fertilizer application to ensure immediate uptake by the soybean plants.
Things to Consider Before Applying Nitrogen
- Adding starter (early-season) nitrogen fertilizer to soybeans may delay or impede nodulation, and thus can delay the onset of nitrogen fixation that normally would have occurred in the absence of the starter nitrogen.
- Soybean plants growing under a lack of moisture may appear nitrogen-deficient, but, in fact, the lack of water has suppressed nitrogen fixation. This condition cannot be remedied by applying nitrogen fertilizer to soybean plants.
- It is not possible to predict soybean response to nitrogen fertilizer based on soil properties. However, situations with positive responses generally have very low residual soil nitrogen, low nitrogen mineralization capability or soil pH so low that it inhibits nodulation and nitrogen fixation. Farmers need to measure residual soil nitrogen in order to make an informed decision about adding nitrogen to soybeans.
- One environmental benefit of growing soybeans or other legume crops is not needing supplemental nitrogen fertilizer. However, for those aiming to break yield barriers or plateaus, the application of supplemental nitrogen during soybean reproductive development should be considered. If this practice is adopted, keep in mind that that loss of nitrogen from cropland is a significant concern in U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA_ Natural Resource Conservation Service’s conservation practice standard for nutrient management.
Dr. Larry G. Heatherly currently serves as Research and Technology Transfer Coordinator and www.mssoy.org blogger for the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board. He is a recognized authority in the fields of irrigation management, stale seedbed technology, cropping systems and the Early Soybean Production System (ESPS). Dr. Heatherly was involved in independent and team research with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) for over 29 years. In 2001, USDA-ARS awarded Dr. Heatherly an award for Superior Technology Transfer Achievement and, in 2004, the USDA Secretary’s Plow Award (top USDA award) for “Enhancing Economic Opportunities for Agricultural Producers.”