Effective Irrigation Management Boosts Soybean Yields
The correct amount of water at the right time is essential for producing high soybean yields.
“Proper irrigation management minimizes yield loss due to crop water stress and optimizes yield per unit of water applied,” said James Han, FieldNET Advisor solutions specialist at Lindsay Corporation. “The result is a greater return on investment.”
To effectively plan irrigation, growers must account for a number of factors, including crop type, hybrids, planting date, as-applied irrigation, rainfall (historic, current and forecasted), soil type, tillage practice, residual cover, water depletion and evapotranspiration (ET) – the crop’s total water use.
“Soybean plant development can be divided into two stages – vegetative and reproductive,” Han said. “Overwatering or underwatering will negatively impact yields – that’s why irrigation scheduling is so important. It will help ensure that you’re maintaining the proper soil water balance.”
During the vegetative stage, irrigation management is fairly simple. Han said the crop needs just enough water to keep it growing well. He warns, though, that fully watering may stimulate excess growth without leading to yield increases. Irrigation during the reproductive stage requires more management.
“After flowering, it’s important to keep the plants well-watered – especially during pod development (R3-R4) and seed fill (R5 – R6). Water stress during these stages will result in yield loss,” he said. “The goal should be to keep the crop fully watered starting at the R3 stages through the end of R6.”
Historically, growers have had to rely on visual inspections, use complex calculations or juggle multiple tools to track soil moisture during each growth stage – but not anymore.
“Now there’s FieldNET Advisor®. It does the work, so growers don’t have to,” Han said. “The technology compiles all of the critical data needed to maintain the correct soil water balance during every stage of plant growth. It also delivers field-specific irrigation recommendations, so growers know precisely when, where and how much to irrigate.”
Using proprietary growth models, FieldNET Advisor tracks the development of each hybrid, including critical development stages and root growth. It also continuously updates the crop’s forecasted maturity date, provides an estimate of any yield loss to date due to water stress and projects potential yield loss through crop maturity if no additional irrigation is applied.
“FieldNET Advisor is seamlessly integrated into our powerful FieldNET platform, so growers can put their irrigation plans into action and track progress from virtually anywhere,” Han said. “It helps growers maximize yields while saving water, time and money.”
In addition to soybeans, FieldNET Advisor can be used multiple crops around the world, including alfalfa, barley, corn, corn silage, cotton, dry edible beans, peanuts, popcorn, potatoes, sorghum, sugarbeets, sweet corn, sugarcane, spring wheat and winter wheat.