Preparing Your Land for Soybean Crops in 2021

January 22, 2021

This is shaping up to be a profitable year for soybean crops. If you’re looking to expand your soybean crop or add soybeans into your rotation, there are a few preparations you can make to ensure you get the most out of your crop come harvest. 

Field Prep 

Each fall when you begin prepping your crops, you decide to either till or leave crop residue. Given the current dry conditions, let’s weigh the pros and cons of each practice. Leaving crop residue is usually the best choice when conditions are dry. It improves soil retention by preventing wind and water erosion and increases moisture retention by catching snow on the surface which adds moisture to the soil come spring. Moisture retention is essential in areas with little winter precipitation. Crop residue also increases aeration and biological activity and reduces the chance of weed seeds germinating. However, crop residue does increase the risk of delayed planting, delayed crop development, increased survival of pests, short-term nutrient tie-up, and less effective pre-herbicides. While these are considerable risks, many farmers find that they’re easier to manage than the risks that come with tilled crops.

Herbicide Planning 

Herbicide planning can be highly beneficial for both GMO and conventional soybeans and is an essential part of ensuring crop health. To prevent the spread of weeds, herbicide applications usually begin before the crop has sprouted. Both incorporated and non-incorporated pre-emerge chemistry can also prevent weeds from fully germinating. The method and chemical you use depends on which weeds you need to control, as well as which chemicals you feel the most comfortable using. Make sure to pay close attention to the instructions and dos and don’ts of each chemical and keep a close and consistent eye on weed pressure.

Fertility Planning 

Always think a year in advance when it comes to fertility planning. Seed-placed fertility (fertility applied the year of planting) is difficult to execute and won’t be nearly as effective as fertility placed the previous year. Knowing what’s in your soil is also essential to crop fertility. A soil test will tell you exactly which nutrients your soybean crops need to thrive and will help you ensure that you’re maintaining adequate levels of micros and macros. 

Variety Selection 

Every farm is different, and every farmer’s land will be suited for a different soybean variety. Choosing the best soybean variety for your rotation, soil type, growing season, and planting dates can lead to better outcomes and a higher quality product. You should also consider planting more than one variety depending on field selection or acreage. Some varieties may thrive more easily than others depending on your specific farming conditions, so increasing your varieties may help you achieve a more successful yield.

Planting Date 

Late planting often leads to reduced yields. Long-term data suggests soybean crops must be planted as soon as soil conditions and temperatures are favourable. 

Planting Depth 

In general, soybeans should be planted between ¾” to 2” deep. 2” is extreme and wouldn’t be viable in heavier soils. The most important contributing factor is seed bed prep and furrow coverage. Your seeds should be placed adequately into the furrow with good soil coverage. If immediate rain is expected, shallow seeding can be quite effective.


Whether you’re looking to expand your soybean crops or add soybeans to your rotation, find out which soybean variety is right for your farm, and if your soil is suitable for soybeans. Grow what you’re prepared to grow and grow what makes sense for your farm and your business.