The Illinois Soybean Association hosted two Better Beans Series events in the northern and northwestern parts of the state. Better Beans came to Polo on January 30 in partnership with Pearl City Elevator and then hit Mendota on January 31 in partnership with Northern Partners Cooperative (NPC). The local events drew over 200 attendees, industry experts and exhibitors. The programming was excellent, tailored to the needs and challenges of growers in the area, and received many wonderful comments—with one producer even stating that it was, “One of the most beneficial meetings that he had attended for quite some time.”

Systems Approach to High Yield Soybeans
Todd Thumma (Polo, Ill.), product development agronomist with Syngenta, and Adam Day (Mendota, Ill.), NPC agronomist, started the morning off with insights into using a systems-approach to grow better beans. This included utilizing good seed treatments. They mentioned that not all seed treatments are created equally and it’s important to understand the actual benefits provided by those seed treatments. Other important things to consider when building a systems-approach for growing beans include proper variety selection, early planting, good fertility, and controlling weeds, insects and diseases.

Better Beans with Plant Nutrition
Jason Haegele, WinField United agronomy manager, and Kevin Shedd, WinField United plant nutrition and performance DSM, focused on plant nutrition. Haegele explained that soybeans require a higher level of fertility than most producers realize. This includes 245 units of nitrogen, 43 units of phosphorus, and 120 units of potassium. Typically, soybeans get the leftovers from the corn crop planted the year prior. He stated we need to focus more attention on fertilizing soybeans to gain higher yields.

Shedd then focused his attention on micronutrients, which play an important role in high-yielding soybeans. The 3 key micronutrients include manganese, sulfur and zinc. He explained that the uptake for each micronutrient varies at different stages of growth. He also noted the importance of tissue testing and analyzing—this will help ensure the correct nutrients are applied when needed.

Advanced Weed Control Systems
Vince Davis, Ph.D., technical service representative with BASF, started his session off by asking two questions:

  1. What have we seen change in the last 5 years and how did you adapt to it?
  2. What do you see changing in the future and how will you adapt to that?

He mentioned the “big weed players” to be concerned with, how each species is different and the importance of understanding the anatomy of each, in order to learn how to best control them. Good burndown, vertical tillage, overlapping residuals, soybean canopy and timely weed control all play a role in weed control management. Davis also spoke to the dicamba system and the importance of minimizing herbicide resistance through diverse modes of action.

Challenges and Viable Solutions in Soybean Production
Both days wrapped up with a roundtable featuring the speakers from the day, a local grower and agronomic experts from the area. The Polo, Ill. roundtable included Steve Leick, a farmer from Winnebago County who farms with his brother Mike. Steve gave us great information and insight into their farming operation. He mentioned that the way for them to learn is by utilizing small plots on their ground. This helps them to adapt better practices for their operation in the future.

The Mendota roundtable featured Will Linker, Malden, Ill., Connor Finley, Ottawa, Ill., and Jeff Bode, WinField United agronomist. Each shared their soybean management stories and experiences on their farm. There were several questions pertaining to fertility, weed management and rotation. Some producers are even considering growing beans-on-beans due to the farming economy at this time.

After the Better Bean meeting concluded, several growers stuck around for a BASF Dicamba Certification meeting with Vince Davis. Overall, these were extremely informative sessions with great comments from the those in attendance. The Illinois Soybean Association would like to thank Pearl City Elevator and Northern Partners Cooperative for their partnership and support hosting these local Better Beans events.

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About the Author: Dawn Kielsmeier

Dawn Kielsmeier is an agronomy sales specialist with Pearl City Elevator in Baileyville, Ill. She has a B.S. in dairy science and an M.S. in agronomy, both from the University of Illinois and has been a CCA since 1993. She is a 2017 Illinois Soybean Association CCA Soy Envoy.