Crop rotation has important agronomic effects that can impact a farmer’s bottom line, and soybeans are a key crop for maximizing these effects. MSPB supports research to quantify the benefits of including soybeans in crop rotation systems.
Andrew Stevens, Ph.D., who is currently an assistant professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studied crop rotations in the Mississippi Delta region during his time at Mississippi State University as an agricultural and applied economist. Stevens leveraged data from the Centennial Rotation study at the Delta Research Extension Center, which includes soybeans, corn and cotton.
Soybeans alone play a vital role in the agricultural industry across Mississippi, especially in the Delta region. By using soybeans in rotation systems with other crops, farmers can increase yields and replenish soil health with a fraction of fertilizer applications.
Reduced Fertilizer Applications
Because soybeans fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil, they can act on soil fertility in place of nitrogen fertilizer. This result impacts the following crop by bringing nutrients back to the soil. Planting soybeans can decrease the amount of nitrogen fertilizer needed and cut down input costs as well.
Enhanced Pest Management
Crop rotation creates disturbances in the habitats of insects and other pests for several growing seasons. By changing the available vegetation, pests must continually look for and migrate to their preferred food sources. These planned disturbances prevent overwhelming thresholds from dwelling in your fields year after year.
Crop rotation also develops a natural yield boosting system by resting and replenishing the soil. The Centennial Rotation experiment concluded that systems continually rotating cotton, soybeans and corn in that order can increase yield as opposed to a continuous cotton system.
“Based on previous experiments, it is likely that rotating soybeans with any other crops will help reduce pressures and boost yields,” Stevens said. “If a farmer has the land and equipment to implement a crop rotation system, it is likely to perform well.”
Learn more about soybean-corn rotation systems here.