A new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the National Sustainable Soybean Initiative, funded in part by the Illinois soybean checkoff, shows most soybean farmers are ahead of the curve when it comes to applying sustainable production methods.
The average score from about 500 completed surveys was 0.8037 out of 1, meaning most soybean farmers are using many of the best management and sustainable practices measured in the assessment. These data are important for foreign and domestic soybean users.
The study uses questionnaires, available at www.soysurvey.com or in paper form, to measure farmer adoption of on-farm management practices. Practices range from production decisions to field scouting and pesticide handling. About 500 surveys, representing approximately 500,000 acres, have been completed so far with help from the United Soybean Board (USB), Wisconsin Soybean Association and Illinois soybean checkoff funds.
Data from Wisconsin and Illinois soybean farmers make up the majority of the results. So far, about 265 surveys had been completed by Illinois farmers, says Shawn P. Conley, University of Wisconsin Extension soybean and wheat specialist.
"The data show how farmers compare to what would be considered normal performance," says Conley. "Plotting sustainability scores show that the curve leans hard to the right, which is good news. That means most farmers adopt many of the recommended sustainable practices."
Those practices include adjusting planters for uniform seeding, and using tillage and management to maintain crop residue and soil surface.
The surveys do not ask for specific field records, rather ask participants to rate their experiences with practices which can or have been implemented to effect change. Results are anonymous and are used to develop U.S. baselines for sustainability and document continuous improvements. For more information, visit www.coolbean.info.
For more information, visit www.ilsoy.org.
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