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Soybeans and changing climate – Audio

Soybeans and changing climate - Audio

Shawn Conley, Extension Wheat and Soybean Agronomist
Department of Agronomy
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 262-7975
Soybeans adapting to a variable climate

3:01 Total Time
0:15 – Variable weather hampers soybean productivity
0:57 – Economic hit, lost potential
1:18 – How the research is done
2:09 – Teamwork to make adjustments
2:53 – Lead out

Sevie Kenyon: Climate variability in soybeans, we are visiting today with Shawn Conley Department of Agronomy University of Wisconsin- Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Sevie Kenyon.


Shawn, how is the changing weather patterns affecting soybean?

Shawn Conley: One, growers tend to be able to plant their soybeans or any crop, generally 2-3 weeks earlier than we were 30 years ago. We tend to also see a lot less frequent, but more intense rainfall patterns. And we have also seen a big shift at when those rainfall events come and I think most growers would agree, when we tend to see the most rainfall, is when they want to be out their planting. And when they see the least amount of rainfall is generally when the soybean crop needs it, it tends to be the end of July and the last part of August and the challenge is identifying these trends and understanding what’s going on out there and more importantly how growers can implement practices to mitigate these stresses.

Sevie Kenyon: Shawn can you give us an idea of how the change in climate is affecting the financial part of growing soybeans?

Shawn Conley: We’ve seen a 30 percent reduction in net yield gain over the last 30 years, which is pretty substantial. And what we were able to calculate basically is what the effects of these weather variations have done on both precipitation and temperature and what the yield impact it has had.

Sevie Kenyon: Shawn can you describe for us how you do this research?

Shawn Conley: First of all we are using measured yield data, from the variety trial program; many farmers are familiar with that. We have measured data across all the locations. Secondly we know all of the management practices that happened at each one of these locations. So what we can physically do is de-trend the yield data, by basically, knowing the genetic yield gain which is about .3 bushels per acre per year, and knowing what influences we are having by soybean management practices out there be planting date, row spacing, cultivar selection, maturity group, and what not. We can de-trend that data, normalize it, so what we can really do is just focus in on weather impacts and that’s one of the unique abilities of this paper is we are just focusing in on that, and removing a lot of the other yield gains that kind of cloud or mask the data, if you will.

Sevie Kenyon: Shawn, what things are needed to adjust to the changing climate?

Shawn Conley: I think realistically what we need is the 3 core disciplines to be able to work together in unison. And this would be the plant breeders, the climatologists, and the agronomists. What we need to do is have the plant breeders basically develop plants that can handle water stress; we have too much water or not enough water during specific growth periods. We need to work with climatologists to develop better more predictive models in order to predict when these stresses occur. Then us as agronomists, or if you will the “boots in the ground”, can take this information from these better varieties from breeders these climatologist models, and then develop recommendations for farmers. There are a lot of management things that we can recommend to growers to help mitigate the stress if we accurate predictions and know when those stressors will occur.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Shawn Conley Department of Agronomy University of Wisconsin- Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Sevie Kenyon.