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Soybean Checkoff hosts SMaRT meeting in Coldwater


Southern Michigan was the educational hub for soybean growers as Mike Staton and company presented the results of the 2015 SMaRT (Soybean Management and Research Technology) on-farm research projects and other related soybean research on Wednesday, Jan. 20 in Coldwater. Staton, a Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Soybean Educator provided the specific soybean research to a standing room only crowd of growers who were anxious to learn more about making their operation profitable.

For five years the SmaRT research program, made possible by the checkoff investment of Michigan Soybean producers, has conducted on farm research around the state. In 2015, producers conducted research trials with eleven projects at eighty-six individual trial locations.

Among some of the trials conducted was the Broadcast Gypsum Trial with the purpose of evaluating the short-term and long-term effects of broadcast gypsum on crop yields in typical Michigan Rotations. The short-term effects results showed the gypsum treated soil did not significantly increase yields at any of the locations. Additional monitoring will be required to determine the long-term effects of broadcast gypsum.

The SmaRT project has evaluated the performance of numerous foilar products in past trials. But soybean producers expressed an interest in comparing a three-way tank mixture including a fungicide, an insecticide and a fertilizer on soybean yields. 

The results were an increase in yields at six of the seventeen locations ranging from 3.4 to 8.3 bushels per acre. Using yearly adjusted soybean prices and product and application costs, the foliar tank mixture was profitable at three of the seventeen locations. Further research will be needed to determine the wide range of yield increases.

In the Potassium Thiosulfate Starter Fertilizer Trial, the purpose was to measure the effect of a potassium thiosulfate starter fertilizer on soybean yields when evaluated across many different environments. 

The results revealed that this treatment produced significantly higher soybean yields than the untreated control at three of the eleven sites. When all 13 locations were combined and analyzed, the starter fertilizer increased soybean yield by only one bushel per acre which will not cover the cost of the fertilizer. One possible explanation of the lack of response to the starter fertilizer was that the potassium soil test levels exceeded the critical levels at all but two sites. Once the critical level has been reached, the soil contains enough potassium to produce 95-97 percent of its yield potential. It was concluded that this practice may be more beneficial on coarse-textured soils or soils having potassium tests below the critical level.

Soybean producers have shown they are willing to intensively manage their crop in order to improve yields triggering university researchers to collaborate to conduct intensive management or “Kitchen Sink” trials in recent years. With nearly all the research done on small plots the purpose of this trial was to determine the effect of seed treatment followed by a foliar three-way tank mixture application. The result was a $12.00 per acre increase in income over the untreated control.  It was decided that additional research was needed to see if this treatment will be profitable across multiple locations and years.

Dr. Chris DiFonzo, MSU Extension Field Crop Entomologist, presented seed treatment effects on yield, income and the environment. She covered the effectiveness of neonicotinoid seed treatments in soybeans. Ned Birkey of Spartan Agricultural Consulting, LLC., briefly explained the agronomic management practices of top yield farms in the Michigan Soybean Yield contest.

Two pesticide application recertification credits were offered with the morning program and lunch, provided by the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, concluded the meeting.

 For complete information on the research trials conducted by SmaRT visit