Soybean School: How tissue testing can help feed yield

SGS Canada’s Jack Legg

Soybean yield contest winners typically rely on weekly tissue testing and foliar feeding to help produce eye-popping, trophy-winning yields. But does this tool have the power to make yield for growers who test and feed just a couple of times during the season?

SGS Canada agronomist Jack Legg thinks the practice makes sense for a wide range of soybean acres. On this episode of the RealAgriculture Soybean School, Legg tells host Bernard Tobin that many growers consider tissue testing as a reactive management tool that is used mostly to identify a nutrient deficiency or agronomic challenge after it appears in the field. “But that same test can be used as a proactive tool to monitor plant nutrition to make sure that yield is not getting lost, or maybe we can push it a little bit by feeding the crop,” he says.

Legg notes that yield contest winners typically use tissue analysis as a routine part of their nutrient management. “They also have some other benefits and infrastructure that the average soybean farmer doesn’t have like irrigation, for example. So they do test intensively, but they also can react to that with a higher frequency; they can fertigate and irrigate their crops, they can do things on the fly that some of us can’t.”

But that doesn’t mean a more typical grower should forgo tissue testing and stand on the sidelines in the race for higher yields. Legg says there’s plenty of value in a simple protocol that includes testing the crop once in the juvenile stage  — V2 to V5  — and then again early in the reproductive stage. “We can come in around flowering and take some trifoliate samples to see where the crop’s at and make sure that there’s nothing lacking and push some nutrition a little harder for a fast growing crop,” he adds.

“I think the rule of thumb would be: test as frequently as you’re willing to manage. If you’re able to come in and react and do either foliar or mid-season nutrient applications, then by all means, you could ramp up the frequency of the testing.”

In the video, Legg also shares tips on how to collect samples as well as strategies to help growers use tissue testing to more effectively manage specific areas of the field.

Tap here to watch more episodes of Soybean School.


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