Iowa farmers and crop experts say there are tremendous advantages to planting equal amounts of soybeans and corn.
Ed Anderson, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) senior director of supply and production systems, says planting rotations of soybeans and corn benefits both crops.
"Studies show us that corn yields are higher following soybeans," Anderson said. "The advantage of a soybean-corn rotation still centers on yield. The positive impact is probably due to several factors. Soybeans break disease, insect and weed cycles and provide nitrogen (fertilizer) for corn the following year."
In addition, the March 28 issue of the Advance (www.isafarmnet.com/Advance/AdvanceMarch28.pdf), a publication of the ISA On-Farm Network®, points out that maintaining a two-year soybean-corn rotation can also lead to energy savings during production and when handling, drying and conditioning of stored grain simply due to few bushels being handled. The rotation also allows farmers to spread out spring and summer fieldwork and harvest over a longer period of time.
According to University of Illinois Department of Agriculture and Consumer Economics estimates, soybeans following corn this year could equal or exceed the profits from continuous corn, depending on the productivity of the land. Based on early April commodity prices, the difference could exceed $30 per acre in favor of soybeans.
Iowa soybean acres held steady in 2011 and 2012 at 9.35 million acres, according to government statistics. Last month’s U.S. Department of Agriculture Prospective Plantings Report said Iowa farmers intend to plant 50,000 more acres of soybeans this year and the same amount of corn, 14.2 million acres.
Weather and economic factors could convince farmers in Iowa and the Upper Midwest to plant more soybeans than planned. A frigid early spring, continued drought conditions in most of the state, falling corn prices and history are all working in favor of soybeans, crop and economic experts say. Acres devoted to continuous or corn-on-corn will likely dwindle in the weeks ahead, officials said.
Chad Hart, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach grain economist, believes there’s a good chance soybean acres statewide could top 10 million acres once planters are parked for good.
"Right now the agronomic, economic and climate factors are shifting (Iowa) more toward a 50/50 (corn and soybean) rotation," Hart said. "Things are pointing in a good direction for soybeans."
As farmers ready planters and fields this spring, many believe a traditional 50/50 rotation is better.
If soybeans are given proper credit for increases in corn yields, Wayne Fredericks of rural Osage says it pays to stick to a two-year corn-soybean rotation.
"I was apprehensive that I was leaving money on the table until I wrapped my mind around the figures," Fredericks said, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) treasurer and supply committee chairman.
To learn more about ISA, go to www.iasoybeans.com.