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Farmers rank management practices for corn, soybeansFarmers rank management practices for corn, soybeans

Corn Illustrated: A seed company survey shows which practices farmers think will help deliver more productivity over the next 10 years.

Tom J Bechman 1

May 3, 2022

2 Min Read
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IMPROVED FERTILIZER PLACEMENT: A survey of 101 farmers says improved fertilizer placement is crucial to higher corn yields. This fertilizer system for Precision Planting aims at better starter placement. Tom J. Bechman

Which crop management practices have helped you boost yields the most over the past decade? Which ones will be most important to you over the next decade? Are these rankings the same? Would your rankings be the same for corn and soybeans?

Golden Harvest, a seed company, decided to find out how farmers answer these questions before locking in their future research priorities. The company surveyed 101 Midwestern corn and soybean farmers. Results are published in the Golden Harvest 2022 Agronomy in Action Research Review. The Golden Harvest technical agronomy team is led by Bruce Battles.

The short answers to the questions above are that some management practices that farmers felt helped them produce more crop over the past 10 years won’t be as important going forward, while other practices have moved up in importance. The rankings of key management practices for the future based on this survey are very different for corn and soybeans.

For corn, improved fertilizer practices, more precise planting practices, and secondary nutrients and micronutrients are tabbed as the top three important practices over the next 10 years. For soybeans, the top three, in order, are seed treatments, foliar fungicides and more precise planting practices.

Here is a closer look at how these farmers ranked practices:


Impact over the next 10 years in corn:

  1. improved fertilizer placement

  2. more precise planting practices

  3. secondary nutrients and micronutrients

  4. in-season soil fertility

  5. seed treatments

  6. foliar fungicides

  7. biological crop growth and nutritional products

  8. soil management practices such as no-till and cover crops

  9. digital tools for product selection and placement

  10. higher seeding rates

  11. earlier planting

  12. narrow row spacing

There seems to be a growing emphasis on in-season soil fertility in corn. Compared to how these same farmers ranked importance of specific practices in improving yield over the last decade, foliar fungicides and biological products moved up the list for future importance, from ninth to sixth and 11th to seventh, respectively. Meanwhile, higher seeding rates slipped from seventh to 10th, and earlier planting dropped from sixth to 11th.


Impact over the next 10 years in soybeans:

  1. seed treatments

  2. foliar fungicides

  3. more precise planting practices

  4. earlier planting

  5. secondary nutrients and micronutrients

  6. biological products

  7. in-season soil fertility management

  8. soil management

  9. improved fertilizer placement

  10. digital tools for product selection

  11. narrow row spacing

  12. higher seeding rates

In the past decade, seed treatment was still the key practice these farmers identified for soybeans, compared to leading with fertilizer-related practices for corn. Earlier planting still ranks as important, but it moved down from second for the past 10 years to fourth for the future. No-till and cover crops ranked fifth for the past decade, slipping to eighth going forward. Surprisingly, narrow-row spacing was 10th before and is 11th now. Higher seeding rates ranked last on both lists.

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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