Estimating factor contributions to soybean yield from farm field data

Maria Bonita Villamil, Vince M. Davis, Emerson D Nafziger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Illinois ranks second in soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] production in the United States with an annual crop value of some $4 billion. To discover what management practices, soil parameters, and environmental conditions enable higher soybean yields, the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) started in 2010 a state-wide "Yield Challenge" (YC) program. Enrolled producers established a "challenge" plot and adjoining "standard" practices plot, and agreed to share crop management information, soil samples, and yield data. Our work describes data analyses and findings using data generated under this program. Yields differed between standard and challenge plots across the state, with foliar applications of fungicide and or insecticide resulting in significant yield increases. Using principal component analyses and multiple regression tools, we were able to explain about 54% of the variation in soybean yield for the state in 2010. Within the available data range, delays in planting date and increased row spacing both reduced soybean yields, and tilled fields yielded more than no- tilled soybean fields. We uncovered a negative trend between soybean yield and PC1, formed by soil cation exchange capacity (CEC), dominant cations, and soil organic matter (SOM), likely due to the drainage characteristics of the plots. Yields were also decreased with increasing values of PC3, a variable that includes soil pH, Mn levels, and soybean cyst nematode (SCN) egg count. On the other hand, higher soil test values of P, Zn, Fe, and K, included in PC2, were related to higher soybean yields. We see this as a promising start to identifying management factors that may be addressed as we continue the search for higher soybean yields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)881-887
Number of pages7
JournalAgronomy Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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