Understand Cultural Practices

​​Understanding the effects of cultural practices in soybeans is important when managing pests

Residue management and crop rotation are important cultural practices to consider.


Conventional vs No-till

Soybeans are widely grown in several tillage environments and there are advantages and disadvantages to conventional and no-till methods.


Conventional tillage such as disking or chiseling, where you partially bury residue, can help begin the process to break down residue, especially over the winter, and potentially reduce inoculum of several disease pathogens, disrupt insect environments and aid in field drying in the spring. However, conventional tillage comes with the cost of labor, fuel and equipment.


Fragile soybean residue breaks down more rapidly than corn residue. Maintaining a surface coverage of at least 30% residue is important on fields that slope, have fine textured soils, and produce low soil test levels. With this in mind, no-till methods help maintain crop residue which increases soil productivity by preserving soil moisture and preventing the spread of some weeds and diseases. However, a no-till approach can also lead to increased activity in weeds and pests, so scout early and treat appropriately to maximize yield potential.

D. Baker. Chisel vs. no-till soybeans following corn. The Ohio State Univ Ext (online). Special circular 166-99. http://ohioline.osu.edu/sc166/sc166_22.html
D. Childs, et al. 1995. Weed control in no-till systems. Weed Control Series. Purdue Univ Ext. http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/CT/CT-2.html
R. Gyles, et al. 1996. Tillage best management practices for corn-soybean rotations in the Minnesota river basin. Univ. of Minnesota Extension (online). http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/naturalresources/DD6676.html#tillage
S. Hendrickson and D. Wolkowski. 2000. Is fall tillage following soybeanharvest necessary? Univ. of Wisc-Madison. http://www.soils.wisc.edu/extension/publications/horizons/2000/falltillage_soybeans.pdf
G. Munkvold. 1996. Fall tillage for disease management. Integrated CropManagement (online). http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/icm/1996/10-12-1996/falltillornot.html


Crop Rotation

Rotating crops can help manage diseases, insects and weed pressure by removing potential hosts for a year or introducing different pesticides and microclimates based on the crop grown. Low quantity and high quality residue (low carbon to nitrogen ratio) can provide to benefits in the corn-soybean rotation. Several agronomic factors are impacted by crop rotation, such as yield, plant height, standability, weed control and disease pressure.


Soybeans following two years of corn (C-C-S) were shown to produce approximately 3 Bu/A more than soybeans planted after just one year of corn. However, continuous soybean cropping systems can yield 2 to 4% less than soybean fields rotated with corn.

Plant Height And Standability

Soybeans planted in soil that historically supported long-term continuous corn can have excess vegetative growth and grow taller than soybeans in other environments. To reduce lodging risk, select a soybean product with a good standability rating and moderate plant height.

Weed Control

Crop rotation increases the combination of different herbicides, different crop canopies and different tillage situations to provide better weed control. It also makes both corn and soybean rotations less likely for herbicide resistance. To maximize your yield potential, scout early and take steps to control weeds throughout the season. Find out what to look for in your fields.


Long-term continuous corn is an effective tool to decrease the inoculum load of many soybean diseases, including brown stem rot, frogeye leaf spot, sudden death syndrome and white mold. When selecting your soybean products, consider which diseases are generally present and if crop rotation will help decrease inoculum load. Learn more about how to identify common soybean diseases that can threaten your yield potential.

1Nafziger, Emerson, Cropping systems, University of Illinois Agronomy Handbook, 49-51, http://extension.cropsci.illinois.edu/handbook/pdfs/chapter05.pdf

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