Renewable Farming

138-bu. dryland soybeans — planted at 50,000 to 80,000 seeds per acre

The vital role of soil biological health is starting to catch the attention of traditional ag magazines and websites. Case in point:  On Dec. 10, 2018, Farm Journal’s AgWeb site carried a feature by crops and technology editor Chris Bennett, describing Nebraska grower Jimmy Frederick’s 2018 soybean yield of 138 bu. on 10 acres, with a planted population of 50,000 to 80,000 seeds per acre.

December 17, 2018 — The point of that story is how Jimmy Frederick focuses on developing a rich microbial base in his soil over time. Beneficial fungi and bacteria release abundant nutrients without high rates of applied NPK. Frederick concentrates on microbially treated seed, in-furrow application of beneficial biological products, and a followup with foliar nutrients as needed during the season.

This is the lower-cost, higher yield approach we’ve encouraged for years.

Farm Journal’s earlier feature on Frederick came in March 2018, when crops and technology editor Chris Benett featured Jimmy Frederick’s 2017 soybean yield of 163.9 bu. on 130 irrigated acres

This week, Iowa crop consultant Bob Streit commented on Frederick’s approach in his weekly report to clients and friends. He labeled Frederick as “a challenger to Kip,” referring to soybean yield contest winner Kip Cullers. Here’s Bob’s observation:

A resourceful 40 something young farmer in SE Nebraska shocked the soybean growing world last fall with his 163 Bu/A irrigated soybean yield in 2017. So what does he do for an encore? Jimmy Frederick of Rulo, NE produced a yield of 138 Bu/A in a dryland field this fall. His story showed up on the AgWeb site last week. In the article he told what he was doing and what products he was using.

No, Jimmy will not get any seed company sponsoring him because his contest field was planted at 50,000 to 80,000 seeds per acre. That’s right. He ended up returning 500 bags of bean seed because he did not need them. When asked his secrets, he said he had grown corn on that ground for the last ten years. He believes in lots of microbial action, and to get that he was paying attention to how many pounds of photosynthates had been released into the ground during that ten year time period. Using the calculation of a carbon researcher from Las Lunas, New Mexico, each corn plant will form and release about ten lbs. of sugar per season.

He figured that over the ten-year history of growing corn and application of biological products — and avoiding the ones known to harm them — he had established the microbe team that fed the roots of his bean plants. And by using some of the newer varieties that show some of the characteristics of determinant beans plus great ability to branch, he was able to respond with in-furrow and foliar products to grow his record crop.

The in-furrow fertilizer is the same material that a few dealers in the state have been selling for a few seasons. It has been recognized as something Roger has done a great job of formulating.

He had plenty of rain in August after hot and dry conditions in the two months prior. Realistically where should he set his yield goal for 2019? He did not break the bank and his focus was not on the N-P-K at all.

If you want to read those articles, check our website around mid-week.


We’d be very interested to learn whether Frederick has been tracking Haney soil test ratings on his ground over the years. This is a developing story… stay tuned.