SRVP Helps Young Farmers Boost Yields

by C. Richard Maples
Extension Specialist - Agricultural Communications

Both young women farm with their fathers. And both felt they needed help when they were handed the reins of their families' soybean operations in 1995.

Christa Taggart of Augusta has been out of college and back on the farm, working with father Charles and brother Allen, for seven years. Her primary job has been taking care of the family's rice fields.

Jennifer James of Newport graduated from college and returned to the farm in 1994. In the two seasons she has worked with her father, Marvin Hare, she has scouted for insects, weeds and diseases in all of the family's crops, including rice, soybeans, milo, wheat and corn.

When they were given the responsibility of making a profit with soybeans, Christa and Jennifer sought the help of the Cooperative Extension Service. They enrolled fields in the grower checkoff-funded Soybean Research Verification Program (SRVP).

"In the past, we've used soybeans as a rotation crop to help clean up our rice fields,'' says Taggart. "Now, it's time we -made money with both, so I'm trying to learn how to grow beans."

She enrolled a 90-acre field in the research verification program and began working with SRVP coordinator Richard Klerk and Woodruff County Extension agent Eugene Terhune.

Klerk says he and Terhune helped Taggart with every phase of production, from soil testing and variety selection to weed control.

"They were interested in going with a late Group IV variety, so we planted Manokins," said Klerk. "Perhaps the area in which we helped them most was with irrigation.

"We used tensiometers in the field to time irrigations. We also ran Extension's computerized irrigation scheduling program. The two methods were always close in telling us when to water."

County agent Terhune says, "Christa may have caught a little heat from other farmers because she watered about two weeks before anybody else."

Taggart says one of the things she learned from the program is that you can't let soybeans become stressed. "If they need to be watered early, you have to do it."

She said the SRVP team suggested she lower her seeding rate. 'We planted much too thick in 1994. We used 85 pounds of seed per acre and wound up with plants that looked like bean stalks. This year, we planted 65 pounds of seed per acre on narrow rows."

Despite the effect of the dry, hot weather on flowering, the average yield for Taggart's SRVP field was 45.2 bushels per acre.

Like Christa Taggart, Jennifer James was more familiar with rice than soybeans. "This is a rice community, and you know that rice is management intensive. Soybeans just seem to fall by the wayside.

"But to make a good soybean crop, you have to be out there in the field just as often."

Having Klerk and Jackson County Extension agent Eric Grant in her 85-acre SRVP field each week helped James identify potential problems.

She said, "I was fairly experienced with weeds, but I didn't know much about soybean diseases. They showed me that there were some out there."

Grant stressed to Jennifer that having perfect, weed-free fields isn't necessarily the most economical approach to soybean production. 'We avoided or potential herbicide applica because the weeds weren't there to treat," he said. "The weeds that did emerge were cosmetic.

"This program forces you to get out in the field, to becor more attuned to what's going on."

As on the Taggarts' farm tensiometers and the computerized irrigation program were used to schedule irrigation.

"I told Jennifer that, being the verification program, they would probably water thes beans more than they evebefore," said Grant.

She recalled that, 'Wh told us to water this field, were already in the process getting the levees up arou rest of the farm. It sort of gered us to go ahead and everything."

The yield on Jennifer, SRVP field was 43 bushe] acre.

Contents | From the Chairman | Soybeans' versatility | Checkoff money wise investment | Improving dryland yields | SRVP helps young farmers | SRVP boosting profits | Improving drought tolerance | Reduced rate weed control | Roundup-ready soybeans | Disease control | Soyink | Computer irrigation scheduling | SOYVA | Early maturing varieties