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Using Soybeans as an Alternate Forage. Dr. Mike Hutjens Dairy Extension Specialist. Jim Baltz Instructional Design Specialist. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Learning Objectives. After viewing this module you should be able to: Identify the stages of soybean growth

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using soybeans as an alternate forage
Using Soybeans as an Alternate Forage
  • Dr. Mike HutjensDairy Extension Specialist

Jim BaltzInstructional Design Specialist

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • After viewing this module you should be able to:
    • Identify the stages of soybean growth
    • Describe the key factors in harvesting soybeans as a silage
    • Evaluate the economics of using soybeans as a forage
stages of soybean growth
Stages of Soybean Growth
  • Growth staging: A growth stage for a field begins when at least 50% of the plants have reached or are beyond a certain stage and stages may overlap.
    • Vegetative stages
    • Reproductive stages
soybean parts
Soybean Parts

Growing Point

Trifoliate Leaf

Unifoliate Leaf

Cotyledons

reproductive stages wi and nc
Reproductive Stages (WI and NC)
  • R1: Beginning bloom
  • R2: Full bloom
  • R3: Beginning pod development
  • R4: Full pod
  • R5: Beginning seed
  • R6: Full seed
  • R7: Beginning maturity
  • R8: Full Maturity
average number of days for each reproductive stage
Average number of days for each reproductive stage

adapted from Soybean Loss Instructions , National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) #6302 Soybeans,91

harvesting soybean silage
Harvesting Soybean Silage
  • Harvest soybeans at R3 stage, when one of the four top nodes with a fully-developed leaf has a 3/16-inch-long pod.
  • Wilt forage to 35% to 45% dry matter before ensiling depending on storage unit.
  • Chop at 3/8-inch theoretical length of cut (TLC).
  • Add an inoculant (similar to an effective alfalfa/legume inoculant)
  • Yields in drought year 1 to 2 tons/acre

Soybean Silage by Dan Undersander, Kevin Jarvik, Tom Anderson, Nick Schneider, and Lee Milligan

yield and quality of soybean forage as affected by harvest maturity
Yield and quality of soybean forage as affected by harvest maturity

Modified from Soybeans for Hay or Silage by Dr. Dan Undersander

forage quality of soybean silage not mixed with other crops
Forage quality of soybean silage not mixed with other crops

Soybean Silage by Dan Undersander, Kevin Jarvik, Tom Anderson, Nick Schneider, and Lee Milligan

soybean hay
Soybean Hay
  • Harvested at R3 - when one of the top four nodes with a fully developed leaf has a 3/16-inch long pod.
  • Limit leaf loss by limiting number of times it’s mechanically handled
  • Dries slow (may require 2 to 3 days)
  • Raking can lead to significant leaf loss
cautions before using soybeans as a forage
Cautions before using soybeans as a forage
  • Check what herbicides and insecticides were used to ensure no restrictions
  • Contact a crop insurance agent before harvesting for forage
economics of harvesting soybeans
Economics of harvesting soybeans
  • As forage, assume 1 ½ tons of dry matter per acre valued at $200 a ton or $300 per acre.
  • As seed, $300 per acre / $15 per bushel, less than 20 bushels may be the break point
  • No harvesting charges were included with the soybean seed
in summary
In Summary
  • Soybean forage may an alternative forage for dairy and beef cattle
  • Consider economics of each alternative
  • Be aware of residue risks and treatments
  • Soybean forage will be similar to other legume forages, but not as palatable
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Check out our online dairy courses at http://online.ansci.illinois.edu/and Illini DairyNETat http://www.livestocktrail.illinois.edu/dairynet/

Dr. Mike HutjensDairy Extension Specialist

Jim BaltzInstructional Design Specialist

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign