Traditionally, western Canadian rotations have been primarily made up of wheat and canola. However, new corn hybrids and soybean varieties present great alternatives for western Canadian growers — opening up more options for management and marketing.
The ideal crop rotation has at least a two-year gap between the same crop. Benefits of including a minimum one to three year crop rotation include breaking disease and insect pressure, managing herbicide resistance by allowing different modes of action and spreading out market risk
Soybeans are a great crop to incorporate, with many economic and agronomic benefits. Economically, soybeans allow growers to take advantage of other markets, which decreases financial risk. Harvest timing is different from canola and wheat, so soybeans help spread out the harvest. Agronomically, more crops equal more herbicide modes of action available to the grower. Crops typically do well after soybeans; less residue is left, and it tends to break down more quickly, resulting in a blacker, more workable soil.
There is a misconception that soybeans build nitrogen in soil. Soybeans will use and fix nitrogen, but only in sufficient amounts for the plant to use.
To grow a successful soybean crop, it is critical that the variety chosen fits the growing zone. Some fields are more or less susceptible to diseases, so growers should choose varieties with resistance or tolerance to known diseases. Growers need to know their fields, and select the right maturities on a field-to-field basis. Fields should be treated individually, and soybean seed products that will manage any problems should be placed appropriately. There are many soybean varieties available, so knowing which will fit your geography and challenges is an asset.
Michael Weir is an area agronomist for DuPont Pioneer.