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Rotation in central Corn Belt offers benefits.

Agronomy Bulletin 120 - Corn-Soybean Rotation

Situation

Soybeans offer many economic and agronomic benefits that complement corn production. Crop rotation prevents the buildup of pathogens and diseases in the soil, and it helps break pest cycles that are common in continuous corn operations. The varied planting time and growing season for each crop helps spread the workload over a wider window of time. Additional benefits of crop rotation include increased nitrogen (N) availability and improved soil health and tilth.

Factors to Consider

  • Plant diseases and pest populations
  • Weed control options
  • Nitrogen availability
  • Soil health and tilth

Action Plan

  1. REDUCE DISEASE RISK. Crop rotation can decrease the risk of certain crop diseases by breaking the cycle of many overwintering, yield-limiting diseases. Soybeans are nonhost plants to many overwintering diseases that significantly impact corn yields, such as gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight and Goss’ wilt.
  2. MANAGE PEST POPULATIONS. Corn-soybean rotations can break pest pressure and protect the efficacy of Bt traits. Soybeans defend corn from yield-robbing pests such as corn rootworm (CRW) in the central Corn Belt. University Extension entomologists recommend adding soybeans into a corn rotation as the single most effective means of control for Bt resistant CRW.1 CRW beetles lay eggs in the fall, primarily in corn residue. If corn is not present the following spring, hatching rootworm larvae will die. Rotation to soybeans eliminates CRW populations in the field, preventing damage.
  3. ROTATE WEED CONTROL. Using multiple modes of action reduces the risk of developing herbicide-resistant weeds and protects current herbicide technologies. The use of multiple modes of action for control reduces the need for additional herbicide applications, saving production costs. Crop rotation allows growers to expand their herbicide application options for more dependable weed control.
  4. SUPPLY N. Corn residue immobilizes higher concentrations of soil N than does soybean residue. To achieve desired yields, corn-on-corn fields require higher N fertilizer applications compared with corn following soybeans. Corn following soybeans benefit from more soil available N, particularly early in the season, which can lead to increased yield potential.
  5. IMPROVE SOIL HEALTH. Rotating crops with fibrous root systems (corn) and taproot systems (soybeans) results in improved soil aggregation, especially in no-till systems. Soil aggregates allow for improved bulk density, increased water infiltration and increased water-holding capacity, each of which can improve soil health and soil tilth.

Summary

Mycogen® brand soybeans can help effectively manage pest populations, mitigate the spread of crop diseases and improve growing conditions for corn. Consider adding soybeans to your seed production plans for dependable economic and agronomic benefits.

For more information, contact your local Mycogen Seeds commercial agronomist or trusted agronomic adviser.

Published on Wednesday, June 17, 2015