New soybean varieties featuring oil with high oleic content are on the horizon, Jim Carroll, a farmer from Brinkley, Arkansas, told growers and industry representatives at the 2015 Tri-State Soybean Forum at Oak Grove, La. The improved oil would have a longer shelf life without hydrogenation that produces trans fats and would also provide the benefits of improved health aspects and higher cooking temperatures, he said.
Carroll is one of 70 farmers who serve on the United Soybean Board, which is funding the research. Soybean farmers collectively invest a portion of their product revenue to fund research and promotion efforts through a national checkoff administered by the USB focusing on research and market development and expansion.
Researchers are now working on developing non-GMO high-oleic soybean varieties. “It’s a whole new concept,” Carroll said. The industry anticipates having the new oil on the market in the next three to four years.
“It does not change the meal, and the beans look the same. It will just be a different oil,” he said.
In addition to new varieties, Carroll said, the soybean industry is concerned about the current transportation infrastructure — rivers and rails — in the country. As more petroleum products move through the transportation system, agricultural commodities are having a harder time finding ways to market.
“Our lock-and-dam system is 60 to 80 years old,” Carroll said. Ships are getting bigger; barges are getting bigger. “We need to step up to the plate and look at this transportation system.” International buyers expect quality and on-time delivery, he said.
Soybean growers should consider including disease resistance when choosing varieties to plant in their fields, said LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Clayton Hollier.
Good crop management practices can mitigate the effects of diseases, Hollier said. And choosing a resistant variety should be based on the history of what has happened in the particular field as well as on the farm.
“We make decisions by what is going on in the field — what is growing, the environment we have and a little bit of history,” he said. “You need information to know what to do, when to do it or even if it needs to be done.”
Chris DeClerk from Delta Plastics gave a presentation on his company’s new Pipe Planner software and how it can reduce irrigation input costs by as much as 25 percent. The software can import GPS data from an Excel spreadsheet and design irrigation piping by making holes appropriate to provide consistent water flow for an entire field or field section to maximize water-use efficiency.
“It helps efficient irrigation management,” DeClerk said. Growers can use the program to use poly tubing more efficiently by measuring flow rates at the input to determine the best way to use piping.
Jason Krutz with Mississippi State University explained how growers in his state have been using Pipe Planner to reduce their water use and increase irrigation efficiency.
“Pipe Planner is a free, user-friendly, web-based application designed to help farmers create the most efficient polytube irrigation system for their crops,” said DeClerk. More information is available online at www.pipeplanner.com.
Jeff Gore of Mississippi State University talked about insects, including the stink bug, kudzu bug, bean leaf beetle and fall armyworm. “Worm and insect problems occur more with late-planted soybeans after May 1 in Mississippi,” he said.
Gore’s advice is to plant early, use insecticide seed treatments and pay attention to insect thresholds with no “automatic” insecticide applications based on the growth state of the plant.
In another presentation, Bob Scott, of the University of Arkansas, talked about new herbicides coming to the market. “We have a lot of concerns about keeping this where it is applied,” he said, recommending growers use a program approach by applying a variety of chemicals with different modes of action to avoid contributing to herbicide-resistant weeds.
Incentives will keep these technologies viable if they’re followed, he said.
High-yield soybean production has different meaning to different people, said Nathan Slaton with the University of Arkansas. Fertilizer recommendations are adequate to produce ultra-high yields if growers maintain soil fertility at medium or optimum levels then apply sufficient fertilizer and manage their crops for maximum fertilizer uptake, he said.
“You have to eliminate stress to allow these yields,” Slaton said, emphasizing drought stress as a primary limit to higher yields. A 100-bushel soybean crop has equal or greater nutrient needs as 300-bushel corn, he said.
“Build and maintain is probably the best approach to ensure nutrient availability is not yield-killing,” Slaton said. “The bar does not need to be set exceptionally high.”
The goal of a fertility program is to allow no depletion of soil nutrients, added Bob Stark, of the University of Arkansas. “Growers need to build to optimum levels.”
The Tri-State Soybean Forum rotates among Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi each year, providing information to soybean growers in the Mississippi Delta region. Forum presenters primarily come from Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University and the University of Arkansas.