Soybean Planting Agronomy: Key Decisions for Optimal Yields

Headshot of Trent Klarenbach, founder of Klarenbach Research
Trent Klarenbach
May 2, 2024
Close-up image of a pile of soybeans.
May 2, 2024
Soybean cultivation requires a delicate balance of proper agronomy practices to ensure the highest yields. Hosted by Berard Tobin for the Soybean School on, a recent video sponsored by BASF Canada and Pride Seeds delves deep into these essential practices. This blog post will cover the critical agronomic decisions highlighted in the video, complemented by additional expert insights to guide soybean farmers towards a successful crop season.

2023 Soybean Crop Review

In 2023, soybean farmers in Ontario witnessed average yields of about 53 bushels per acre. This success was largely attributed to a combination of astute agronomic decisions at the time of planting and favorable weather conditions, particularly the timely rains in August.

A farmer in a lush soybean field at sunset, examining the vibrant green plants, symbolizing the harmony of traditional and modern farming practices.

Detailed Analysis on Soybean Agronomy Issues

1. Fertility Management

Effective fertility management is crucial for maximizing soybean yields. Key considerations include:

  • Placement of Fertilizers: Avoid direct contact between the seed and the fertilizer to prevent stand reduction. A minimum one-inch soil buffer is advised.
  • Phosphate and Potash: These nutrients are pivotal, especially in no-till systems where their placement greatly influences their effectiveness.
  • Nutrient Management Based on Crop Removal: This approach helps maintain soil fertility by adjusting phosphate and potash applications according to crop removal levels, thus avoiding excessive and costly over-application.
A soybean field demonstrating effective no-till farming, highlighting clear planting rows amid residue.

2. Residue Management

In no-till systems, managing residue is vital for avoiding issues with seed placement and moisture retention. Effective residue management helps eliminate physical barriers to emerging soybeans, fostering better growth conditions.

3. Planting Date

Choosing the right planting date is a balance between too early, risking cold damage, and too late, which shortens the growing season. The optimal window in many regions is late April to early May, with the soil's condition being a more crucial factor than the specific date.

4. Planting Depth

A consistent planting depth of about 1.5 inches is ideal for soybeans. This depth ensures adequate moisture for germination while minimizing the risk of too-deep planting, which can severely hinder emergence, especially in clay-heavy soils.

Detailed cross-sectional view of soil illustrating the optimal 1.5-inch planting depth for soybeans, with a ruler for scale.

5. Seeding Rate

The right seeding rate varies significantly depending on soil type, planting date, and expected weather conditions. In adverse conditions, higher rates may be necessary to ensure sufficient plant populations.

Effective management in the key areas of fertility, residue, planting depth, and seeding rate can greatly influence the productivity and sustainability of soybean farming. For tailored advice, soybean farmers should consider consulting with local agricultural extensions or agronomy experts, who can provide guidance specific to regional conditions and soil types.

An up-close, detailed view of a soybean plant, highlighting the vibrant green leaves and young soybeans under a clear blue sky, showcasing the plant's healthy growth and yield potential.

To learn more, click the following link to watch the full video: