Investigating Efficacy of Inoculants and the use of Winter Cover Crops to Improve Soybean Performance and Yield Following Rice in the Full Season Soybean Production System 

Investigators: Trenton Roberts and Jeremy Ross

2013 Highlights:  In Arkansas, soybean is most often rotated with rice and the establishment of a strong and vigorous full- season production system is essential to achieving a high-yielding soybean crop.

A series of new inoculants were evaluated to determine if nitrogen fixation, the key component of high yield potential, could be improved following rice. Results indicate that there is little to no yield benefit from these often costly improved inoculants.

Winter cover crops are another tool which can potentially increase the productivity of soybean following rice. Results from our research indicate that the use of winter cover crops can have many production and environmental benefits. Tillage radish, winter wheat and winter rye improve soil structure and water holding capacity while reducing soil erosion and valuable nutrient loss such as potash.

Implementing the use of winter cover crops protects the loss of soil from agricultural fields, which is often overlooked as a soybean producer’s most valuable natural resource.

Results of this research suggest that implementing the use of winter cover crops such as winter wheat and cereal rye can increase soybean emergence and establishment as well as early season soybean vigor. Although these are short-term benefits, little thought has been given to the long-term benefits of using winter cover crops such as reduced erosion, increased soil organic matter and overall increases in soil nutrient availability and soil water holding capacity.