Soybean Researcher Asks For Your Help to Advance Irrigation Efficiencies - UNL CropWatch, 2011

Soybean Researcher Asks For Your Help to Advance Irrigation Efficiencies - UNL CropWatch, 2011

July 8, 2011

Dear Nebraska Soybean Producers:

I have met many of you over the years in winter and summer soybean research and extension meetings. My colleagues and I have conducted research for the past 35 years on Nebraska soybean cropping systems that has produced results and data that have helped Nebraska growers enhance their soybean yields.

Help Us Help You

We want you to be able to maximize the number of soybean bushels per acre you get for each inch of rainfall you receive or each inch of irrigation you apply!

Now, I and my colleagues need your help. We are embarking on a statewide producer survey project, funded by the Nebraska Soybean Board, which will attempt to identify the key crop factors on Nebraska farms that limit the optimization of on-farm soybean yields. More about this research project in a moment.

For rainfed soybean producers, we know that the key limitation on soybean yield is summer rainfall, but management factors exist that can help you obtain more bushels per acre for each inch of rainfall that falls on your field during the soybean growing season. In effect, we want you to get more crop per drop of rain!

For irrigated soybean producers, a key factor in optimizing irrigated field yields is just-in-time irrigation scheduling that will synchronize water application with the key crop stages when the crop water need is the most critical. However, even with irrigation, the cost of irrigation application is such that producers want to minimize the total applied irrigation water to just the amount needed to optimize yields. Moreover, for those producers who must use deficit-irrigation amounts because of a limited water supply, effective use of that limited water is highly desired. In effect, we want you to be able to maximize the number of bushels per acre you get for each acre-inch of irrigation water you apply!

The research that we are starting this year is called the Nebraska Soybean Yield Gap Analysis Project. The first phase of the project involves obtaining crop management information on at least one 2010 soybean field from each Nebraska soybean producer willing to contribute that information to us. The information we need is indicated on the survey form. An important data input is the field location, which will allow us to identify your soil type information and the nearest weather station.

For those of you who have records of your prior year soybean fields, we would be very appreciative if you could complete the survey form for data on a 2009, 2008, and 2007 field, if at all possible. In any event, if the only data you can provide is for one of your 2010 soybean fields, or even just the starting data for one soybean field you planted this year (2011), we would very much like to receive even that data.  If you prefer to submit your field data via the Internet, a survey is also available at

Let me conclude by saying that your submission of a survey form with data will be very, very helpful to us in trying to establish a benchmark for the key factors influencing soybean productivity on Nebraska farms (like yours!). With that information, we intend to identify the soybean management factors that, going forward, will enable you and your neighbors to become the best soybean producers in the U.S. in terms of soybean yield per drop of water.

Keep in mind that any information you submit to us will be kept strictly confidential and will NOT be shared with anyone in the private or public sector. We only need your name, telephone, and postal and e-mail addresses for the purpose of keeping you updated on the progress and results of our yield gap analysis.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or desire more information.

J. Specht

Jim Specht
322 Keim Hall
University of Nebraska
Lincoln, NE 68583-0915
Telephone: 402-472-1536
Fax: 402-472-7904