Drainage and Tillage Research Site
Sustainable Production
DiseaseField management Pest
Lead Principal Investigator:
Seth Naeve, University of Minnesota
Co-Principal Investigators:
Project Code:
Contributing Organization (Checkoff):
Leveraged Funding (Non-Checkoff):
$50,000 requested of AFREC; $30,000 supplemented from Naeve Project commercial trails
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Institution Funded:
Brief Project Summary:
In this project, researchers utilize a range of contemporary crop management scenarios to examine effects on early-planted soybeans including temperature, water, and nutrient availability. These will be conducted at the Drainage x Tillage research site near Wells, MN. The effects of residues on early-planted soybeans and the interactions between residue quantity and quality, tillage, and drainage will also be examined. Also planned is a unique experiment to evaluate effects of drainage, tillage, and residue on soil temperatures, moisture, and nutrient availability at the seed and in the rhizosphere from planting through harvest.
Key Beneficiaries:
#agronomists, #drainage experts, #farmers
Unique Keywords:
#agronomy, #cover crops, #drainage, #no-till, #planting
Information And Results
Project Summary

While soybean is thought of as a highly competitive and resilient crop, early-season growth and development is critical to maximizing yields. Early planting is important, but it is early spring vigor and growth rates that determine yield potential. In other words, planting dates have little effect on soybean yields, but emergence dates and early season vigor do. Rainfall patterns have shifted significantly, making very heavy rainfall events more frequent, thus making drainage, tillage, and residue/cover crop research critical.
Here we propose to utilize a wide range of contemporary crop management scenarios to examine many aspects of temperature, water, and nutrient availability, and their effects on early-planted soybean. We plan to utilize our existing Drainage x Tillage research site near Wells, Minnesota to investigate the effects of residues on early-planted soybean. We will also carefully examine the three-way interactions between residue quantity and quality, tillage, and drainage.
By including residue removal and cover crop treatments, we can investigate the effects of residue level on all aspects of both early-season and season-long soybean growth. We plan a first-of-a-kind experiment to evaluate effects of drainage, tillage, and residue on soil temperatures, moisture, and nutrient availability at the seed and in the rhizosphere from planting through harvest. Results from this multi-year trial will vastly improve the quality of recommendations regarding fall tillage, cover crop management, and planting management in both well-drained and poorly-drained soils.

Project Objectives

Goal #1: Examine the primary effects of drainage, tillage, and corn residue or cover crops on spring soil conditions affecting planting, emergence, and vigor.
• Objective 1: Deploy soil monitoring to evaluate soil temperature and moisture profiles from spring thaw through planting, to examine soil temperatures and moisture at 2" and 4”
• Objective 2: Monitor soil moisture and temperature throughout the profile throughout the growing season
• Objective 3: Evaluate yield and seed quality impacts of the primary treatments

Goal #2: Evaluate all two- and three-way interactions between drainage, tillage, and residue/cover crops on important soybean measures.
• Objective 1: Examine all interactions on soybean yield
• Objective 2: Examine all interactions on soybean seed quality

Goal #3: Examine the primary and interactive effects of drainage, tillage, and corn residue/cover crops on soil chemical and physical parameters.
• Objective 1: Examine nitrogen availability and mineralization profiles throughout the season
• Objective 2: Examine soil carbon effects of these factors
• Objective 3: Examine soil health parameters as affected by these primary treatments that may impact soybean growth, development, yield, and seed quality

Goal #4: Complete a comprehensive physical, chemical, and biological analysis of the site to evaluate long-term effects of drainage and tillage on Minnesota soils productivity.

Project Deliverables

This project will generate needed information to evaluate opportunities and challenges to soybean production under drained and undrained conditions when different tillage and crop residue management conditions are used. We will be able to better understand soil N availability and the effects of the various management variables being tested on soil health and productivity. Ultimately, this project will allow us to refine soybean management practices (or at least provide a first step) to tailor them to specific soil or cropping management conditions. Currently, very limited information is available on how the variables being considered in this study, which are commonly found throughout Minnesota, impact N availability and crop and soil productivity.
Further, Drs. Naeve and Fernandez have extensive experience in communicating research in effective ways to Extension clientele. Crop producers and other professionals benefit by having the latest research information in formats that are clear, concise, and actionable. Results from research outlined in this proposal can be communicated to crop producers and ag professionals quickly and effectively by dedicated communications professionals as outlined in the proposal.
With the recent publication of results summarizing effects of drainage on optimal N rates on corn, there is tremendous interest in this site and the research we are conducting there. We plan to hold at least one field day in the summer of 2023, and will certainly be speaking of this work at various field days and events throughout 2023.

Progress Of Work

We had another very successful year at the UofMN MNSR&PC Drainage Site near Wells. The weather provides unique challenges to us each year. This one was no different. Excess rainfall early forced us to replant corn (with the neighboring farmers). We limped through the rest of the year with a few showers. However, corn did yield 200+ and soybeans were in the 70's. Data analysis is in progress. MS student Carlos Sanchez did present results at the Agronomy meetings in November. A summary poster is attached.

View uploaded report PDF file

We have made good progress at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council Drainage and Tillage site near Wells, MN in early 2024. Masters student Carlos Sanchez whose work was focused exclusively at the site is currently wrapping up his thesis. He has completed one of two thesis chapters dedicated to early season effects of drainage and tillage on soybean growth and development. A second chapter focused on soil effects will be forthcoming. Carlos plans to defend his thesis in April, so a final report will be available to the committee soon.

Thank you

Final Project Results

Updated May 31, 2024:

View uploaded report PDF file

Benefit To Soybean Farmers

As mentioned above, the primary benefit of this work is to solve important soybean production challenges that do not always occur on flat, uniform, well-drained, and conventionally-tilled soils. This site and our multifaceted, unique treatment structure allow us the opportunity to look at a wide range of production system scenarios across a number of years to provide Minnesota farmers with answers to real-life questions that impact their bottom lines. Minnesota farmers have invested in this valuable research site for a number of years now and the knowledge dividends are paying off.

The United Soybean Research Retention policy will display final reports with the project once completed but working files will be purged after three years. And financial information after seven years. All pertinent information is in the final report or if you want more information, please contact the project lead at your state soybean organization or principal investigator listed on the project.