High yielding varieties and weed management are important to farm profitability and deserve to be a major focus of soybean checkoff research investments. When we talk about the challenges facing soybean farmers, we often start by discussing some aspect of these two items. And there are certainly years of work ahead for checkoff-funded research programs in the areas of yield and weed management.
Do we sometimes overlook the importance of insect pressure and research programs aimed at managing bugs on soybean and other crops? I sometimes think the checkoff overlooks the urgency and excitement of research and extension programs aimed at insects. One agronomist who agrees with this sentiment recently stated “growers want a silver bullet to take care of everything at $5.00/ac and the reality is that this worm/bug complex is forcing growers to spend $15/ac to clean up fields. No one wants to make two trips as most don’t have the time so it’s challenging to get it right the first time.” And that’s where the checkoff can step in.
The checkoff can achieve excellent results fairly quickly from practical experiments in the field, and management advice arising from the results is readily available to farmers. The insect world can be a fast changing environment, too. In the Southeast, the complex of stink bug, kudzu bug, corn earworm, tobacco budworm and other pests is changing rapidly. There is even news of a new parasitic predator that may help control kudzu bug. So investments in population studies, thresholds, and product efficacy can go a long way to protecting yield. That’s where the checkoff can play a major role in yield protection.