Remember the old adage, “Begin with the end in mind?”  It’s a great way to approach the planning of a crop year, so take a minute to think forward to December 2014.

How’d your year go?  What worked and what didn’t?  And most importantly, what new things did you try that worked (or didn’t)?

By thinking ahead to what you’d like to accomplish on your farm in this year, you can begin planning to up your management plans so that you can make the most of whatever type of growing season 2014 brings.

The best time to rethink your approach to soybeans is now, long before you hit the fields.  And the way to start is with a little research of your own.  Here are our top suggestions for things to research to up your management game:

  1. Cover crops—Experts suggest they offer both short- and long-term benefits to the profitability of your farm. But they require careful management to be successful. Read more about how to get started here.
  2. Fertility on soybeans—If you’re like most growers, you invest in fertility before corn, but let soybeans go with what’s in the ground.  New research is showing yield responses [to increased fertility levels] in soybeans.  Read more here.
  3. Herbicide resistance—Estimates are that weeds rob enough yield potential from crops worldwide to feed a billion people, so weed control matters.  Check out this information on how to take on the tough task of herbicide resistance.
  4. Keeping everything healthy—We may talk about yield potential and crop stress, but what we’re really thinking about is managing for healthy plants and healthy soils.  Learn more about how you can plan for a healthy crop that also improves soil health.
  5. Making the most of planting fever—There’s more to it than soil moisture or soil temperature.  Here’s a recap of things to consider before you hook up the planter.
  6. Managing pests—Whether you’re worried about insect pressure or the threat of soybean diseases, you can take a new look at battling these old challenges.

Regardless of the challenges you faced in 2013, it will be a whole new ballgame in 2014.  Yet, by researching the latest findings in these areas and trying out just one new approach in your fields in 2014, you can rest assured that you’re going to finish the year ahead of where you started.

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