As planting nears, RCFI team provides data, tips

March 3, 2022 | Kriss Nelson

Helping farmers get a jump start on preparation for the 2022 growing season, the Iowa Soybean Association’s Research Center for Farming Innovation kicked off their Innovations to Go webinar series on Tuesday.

The first of the monthly series featured a wide array of research data and recommendations for planting date, seeding rates and more.

The first tip: Not every spring or farm is treated equally.

“What works for one may not work for all,” says Anthony Martin, ISA senior field services program manager. “Once we get into planting, plan and give yourself time. Be willing to adapt as planting comes.”

Planting recommendations

Iowa State University recommends waiting to plant until soil temperatures with ideal soil moisture levels that are 50-degrees and rising and not within 36 hours of a cold spell.

Planting into cover crops

Advances in Cover Crop Management is a new ISA publication that takes a deep dive into all aspects of the conservation practice, including tips on establishing a cash crop into cover crops.

Frequently checking planting depth and seed spacing, residue management and utilizing active downforce on your planter should help your cash crop get off to a good start.

Martin also advises an early-season nitrogen application.

“When you are coming out of a cover crop planting corn, you need to have some of the nitrogen down early,” says Martin. “30-50% of the total planned nitrogen seems to be a good starting point, just to have that little bit of nitrogen down for the crop as it begins to grow.”

Soybean planting dates

Through ISA soybean planting date trials, Martin says they have found a potential advantage for planting varieties of later relative maturity (RM) soybeans earlier in the spring, in late April to the first week of May.

Martin suggests farmers conduct their own variety trials to check RM to determine how those variety choices stack up in their fields.

Seeding rates

General recommendations of soybean seeding rates are planting 120,000 to 140,000 seeds per acre, looking for a final plant stand of 100,000 to 120,000 per acre.

Variable-rate seeding is also an option.

In this case, Martin suggests considering higher seeding rates on less productive zones and lower seeding rates on more productive zones.

“Consider testing populations to see what works. Pencil out the ROI once it is all said and done,” says Martin.

Soybean Variable Rate Planting Simulator

Josh McDanel, ISA spatial data analyst, introduced the Soybean Variable Rate Planting Simulator Tool.

Utilizing three years of historical soybean yield, seed cost and expected yield response, the tool simulates different variable planting rate scenarios to maximize return and minimize cost.

McDanel stressed that data is only loaded onto your computer and is not collected by ISA.

The tool features example data that is available to view, as well as a user manual and a “how-to” guide.

“The tool provides estimates to help you take a look at things, see where you can adjust and how it may help your bottom line on your farm,” says McDanel.

Field trials

RCFI is actively recruiting farmers to become part of on-farm research trials.

Trials include planting date, maturity and seeding rates, using variable-rate seeding, nitrogen management, North Central Soybean Research Program trials, and more.

“We would love to work with you to help develop trials to do this work on your farm,” Martin says. “ even if it isn’t through our program, we recommend testing your own ideas, and through trial and error you can see what works on your farm,” says Martin.

A recording of the session can be found here.

The Innovation to Go Webinar series will be held monthly through September. Registration and more information can be found at