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Pros and cons with conventional soybeans

'Change mindset' with cover crops.

Ron Smith

February 5, 2020

1 Min Read
Jeremy Ross, left, University of Arkansas Extension agronomist, and farmer Adam Chappell discussed cover crop and no-till production systems at the Cotton and Rice Conservation Systems Conference.Ron Smith

Cotton Plant, Ark., farmer Adam Chappell says a switch to no-till and cover crops saved the farm, but he cautions producers to manage expectations in the early going.

Part of his system for soybeans includes planting conventional varieties.

University of Arkansas Extension agronomist Jeremy Ross explained some of the issues producers might encounter by making a similar change.

Chappell and Ross discussed the system at the recent Cotton and Rice Conservation Systems Conference in Memphis, Tenn.

"Producers should consider the pros and cons," Ross says. Pros include reduced seed costs for conventional soybean varieties. Saving seed might be an option. Producers also could receive a premium, 50 cents to $2 a bushel, for non-GMO soybeans. New markets may be available.

On the negative side, Ross notes weed control, changing production practices and potential for conventional seed mixing with GMO varieties. "Producers may need dedicated storage systems for non-GMO soybeans. "They may need to change production practices, too," Ross says, "including adding cover crops and planting in narrower rows."

Producers also should select fields carefully when converting to conventional soybeans. "If a field has a history of resistant pigweeds, they need to keep those areas clean. Identify weed populations. Overlap residual herbicides. Metribuzin is a must.

Related:Cover crops saved the farm

"Variety selection is important," he adds, "and the producer should plant early in 15-inch rows."

Chappell and Ross agree that the system will save money, including seed costs, reduced fertilizer demand, fewer irrigation applications and less insect pressure.

"Change your mindset," Chappell says. "It's possible."

About the Author(s)

Ron Smith

Editor, Farm Progress

Ron Smith has spent more than 30 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Denton, Texas. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and two grandsons, Aaron and Hunter.

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