Growing soybeans is not the easiest task for farmers. It requires a lot of patience, focus, and care. Moreover, it is not easy, even for a seasoned farmer. The growing season demands constant monitoring of the soil moisture level, temperature, and sunlight intensity to ensure that the plant gets everything it needs.
Moreover, despite all its advantages over conventional crops such as cotton or tobacco, soybean cultivation is still challenging for most farmers. It can be very difficult to get good yields from this crop due to its low tolerance to different kinds of pests and diseases, its susceptibility to fungus attacks during the dormancy phase, and many other factors that need to be considered during seed selection and planting.
In this article, you will learn about five important problems that crop up during soy cultivation. Keep reading to learn more from U.S. Soy.
5 Problems in Soy Cultivation
Soybean is among the most versatile, valuable, and nutritionally crucial sources of sustainable protein worldwide. You can grow the legume in a multitude of environments, using a variety of management practices, and for diverse end-user purposes. Here are some unknown problems you can run into when cultivating the crop.
- Soybean rust
Soybean rust is caused by the fungus Sclerotinia Apta, the main natural disease affecting soy crops in tropical regions. Soybean rust is difficult to control and can only be prevented by rotating between rust-resistant crops, such as maize and beans. The fungus is mostly found from April to May when rainfall is irregular but humid.
If you notice rust on your soybean crop, you should immediately spray the affected areas with fungicide. Moreover, you should also remove the affected leaves, as the fungus is not visible when the plant is in full growth.
- Mid-season drought
Irrigation of your soy fields during the monsoon season can boost your yields; however, it can also be a major challenge for your organic soy farm’s sustainability. During the monsoon season (June to September), the water demand is high, so you will inevitably face issues related to insufficient water availability.
Water conservation is the single most important aspect of organic soy cultivation. Carefully consider the timing of your crops, and avoid planting your soybeans in November and December, when the demand for irrigation is significantly low. Moreover, remember that soybeans are a ‘succulent’ crop, which means they need a lot of water to grow.
- Weeds in the fields
You may find weeds in your fields during the early stages of organic soy cultivation. This is because soy crops are typically planted in fallow fields or areas not used for cultivating crops. So, the weeds can grow in the fields without being disturbed by the crops. Though you can remove them immediately, the best approach is to control their growth using mulch or weed management strategies.
Mulch is an organic way to cover your soy fields with a protective covering. This protective covering is made of organic material (e.g., straw, hay, sawdust, or wood chips) placed around the plants. The mulch acts as a protective covering against high winds, which can damage the soy plants. Moreover, you can also use a mulch to grow vegetables in the future.
Weed management is an important aspect of organic soy cultivation, which determines the success of the entire venture. You can use many methods to control weed growth in your soy fields. The most common methods include mowing, pulling, and laying down a plastic cover.
Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/MNhIlPNXLSU
- Grower bugs and biodiversity loss
As soy production is an eco-friendly crop, it has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thereby contributing to the preservation of biodiversity and the ecosystem. However, like any other crop, the organic soy cultivation process also has some drawbacks related to its sustainability.
One of the lesser-known problems that crop up during soy cultivation is the appearance of ‘garden’ pests, known as ‘pests’ because they feed on plants. The ‘gardener’ pests are insects known to feed on soybean plants.
The most common of these pests is the soybean aphid, which is known to attack soybean crops in the United States and Europe. Soybean leafhopper, soybean stem gall, soybean cyst nematode, soybean weevil, and soybean flea beetle are other ‘pests’ that crop up in soybean fields.
Another negative aspect of organic soy cultivation is the loss of biodiversity. The soybean is an ‘annual’ crop grown for one year only and then removed from the land. However, this practice can be detrimental to biodiversity.
- Soil nutrient imbalances during soy cultivation
It is one of the most challenging issues that crop up during soy cultivation. During any crop cultivation, there is a risk of soil nutrient imbalances. However, this is especially true during soy cultivation for the following reasons. Soybeans are known to be a ‘high-yielding’ crop, requiring a lot of nitrogen to grow.
However, most soils are deficient in nitrogen, an essential nutrient for crops to grow. As soybeans are a ‘high-yielding’ crop, they can imbalance nitrogen and other essential soil nutrients, such as phosphate and potassium. Moreover, soybeans are a ‘poor’ nitrogen-fixing crop, meaning they do not contribute to the growth of bacteria and fungi in the soil, known as ‘fixing’ crops.
Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/83RJnK0UbW4
These are some of the unexpected challenges that crop up during soy cultivation. However, there is one thing that you must remember; these challenges exist only when you need help understanding them and addressing them with the required measures. So, don’t think about them as hurdles you must overcome but as opportunities to improve your organic soy farm.