How to Increase Soybean Yield

The maximum yield potential in soybean is determined by genetics, environment, and management.

In order to obtain this potential, the environmental conditions must be perfect, which very rarely happens. Apart from the environment, several agronomic factors influence crop yield such as cultural practices, pests and diseases control, planting decisions, and soil physical and chemical properties. Plant nutrition, however, is an essential management factor directly linked to achieving genetic yield potential.

Factors influencing yield

The final seed no. is directly influenced by the number of nodes per plant, and the pods developing at these nodes. The most sensitive stage of development for pods is between R1 and R6, when the flowering and flower abscission occur. 

The number of nodes per plant is also influenced by the plant density (plants/m²), but not directly influenced by other agricultural practices. 

The main factor for yield development is a high number of nodes and pods on the plant, which can be reached by optimum plant growth.

Crop nutrition and soybean yield

Nutrients have specific functions in the soybean plant to boost higher yields. 

Soybeans have a large requirement for nitrogen but can obtain the majority of this from the air via Rhizobium bacteria forming nodules on their root system. Soybean seed needs to be inoculated with group H rhizobia to get effective nodulation and ensure adequate nitrogen nutrition to the plant. 

Phosphorus is particularly important for root development and for a good crop establishment. 

Potassium, like nitrogen, also drives the crop development, and large amounts are taken up during plant development. Its supply needs to be balanced with N during the growing cycle. Good potassium nutrition can also help to minimize frost effects and avoid lodging. Potassium is important for stomata closure regulating and low supplies may result in water losses. 

Magnesiumsulfur and iron increase photosynthetic activity and helps maintain good growth. Calcium ensures good strengthening of cell walls, stem production and root growth. Boron is required for pollen tube development and ensures good fruit set. Zinc is important for photosynthetic activity. 

The unavailability of any micronutrient can also restrict processes of growth and yield. Therefore, a balanced crop nutrition strategy is key in achieving high yields.