Stress Free Soy
When growing soy, the ultimate goal is to maximize crop yield while maintaining crop and soil health in order to continue using that land for soy production or as part of a crop rotation schedule. Each step in the life cycle of the plant has its particular needs, but when focusing on the soybean flowering phase, some special care can result in greater yields when the time for harvest arrives.
Flowering and fighting stress
The flowering phase is an integral phase for soy plants. What happens during this time and how many flowers the plant is able to produce and maintain will determine the ultimate yield of each plant. Much like humans, plants are also affected by and suffer from stress caused by external factors. A lack of rain and excessive heat are formidable enemies for soy and can severely impact the plants’ development and productivity. In order to minimize the damage that can be induced by these stressors, producers should ensure that the crop is in optimal health and is able to remain in good condition.
Feed the plant
To improve a plant’s stamina and increase its chances of surviving and even thriving, the grower should ensure that the plant is able to receive and use the appropriate nutrients during periods of stress. Luiz Gustavo Floss, a grains consultant for Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina, notes that some practices are indispensable for improving plant development and flower retention — factors that impact profitability.
“The plant needs to be well-nourished at the moment of flowering to form as great a number of pods as possible, resulting in an increase in production and greater grain weight,” Floss explained.
Solutions to protect against stress
Providing nutrients and other stress-reducing substances to the plants prior to and during times of stress will help producers reduce their risks during flowering. Agronomist Vinícius Abe, an Alltech Crop Science technical manager specializing in grains, says that these compounds will allow the plant to be better prepared to resist external factors.
“These elements are fundamental for the development of the plant,” Abe explained. “Zinc is a good example of one of these essential elements. It’s an enzymatic cofactor that aids in protein synthesis and in the photosynthetic process. But there are also other important nutrients, such as copper, boron, calcium, nitrogen and potassium. These nutrients are fundamental for the proper formation of the reproductive organs, filling of the grains and productivity.”
When a plant receives the essential amount of the nutrients, these stress-reducing substances begin to work quickly to stimulate the plant so that it will reach a balanced state and have the ability to perform the necessary functions, especially in the production of amino acids and hormones.
“When we apply an amino acid externally, we stimulate internal production so that the soy plant can pass through this phase more balanced,” said Abe. “Some stressful situations, for example, can make these functions become unregulated and will result in the plant having its productivity compromised.”
The Alltech Crop Science solutions based on plant extracts and nutrients complexed with amino acids also have a beneficial impact on the quality of soy plants. With the demands for particular protein levels in the international market, the use of these solutions will translate directly to increased profitability for producers.
“The improved development of the plant becomes possible when care is taken in the materials that are used, promoting improved genetic expression and productive potential, as well as decreasing the impact of stress factors on the plant,” Abe said.
Did you know?
The average soy plant will usually have between 300 to 450 flowers, but more than 80% of them are lost due to various factors that create stress in the plant. There are several steps that growers can take in order to help reduce the loss of flowers. These steps include implementing appropriate crop management techniques, like proper fertilizing, spacing, stands, irrigation and the delivery of nutrients such as calcium and boron, which will increase the probability that flowers will remain on the plant and lead to increased pod production.
Roles of certain nutrients in soy production
- Zinc: Important during the formation of chlorophyll; influences protein level.
- Copper: Involved in the ability of the plant to synthesize lignin.
- Boron: Integral to the formation of nodes and nitrogen fixation.
- Potassium: Plays a role in photosynthesis.