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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PEST BIOLOGY, ECOLOGY, AND INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

Location: North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory

Title: Are Production Problems Tarnishing Soybean's Luster?

Author
item RIEDELL, WALTER

Submitted to: Brookings Register
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: May 3, 2006
Publication Date: May 3, 2006
Citation: Riedell, W.E. 2006. Are production problems tarnishing soybean's luster? Brookings Register. 3 May 2006.

Interpretive Summary: In an effort to communicate directly with the general public about issues faced by agriculture and farming, this article has been written for publication in the local newspaper, The Brookings Register. The article uses data obtained from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service to discuss trends in soybean production in South Dakota. The number of soybean acres planted has increased from an average of 300,000 in the 1970s to a record 4.5 million acres planted in 2001. The economic numbers are astounding and explosive: the value of South Dakota soybean production has increased from $31 million in 1976 to over $800 million in 2003. Emerging insect pests, like the bean leaf beetle, and invasive insect pests, like the soybean aphid, can require pesticide applications for population management, which in turn increases production costs. Diseases, such as white mold and Sclerotinia stem rot, can reduce yields. The appearance of new pests, such as the soybean cyst nematode or the Asian soybean rust, have the potential to dramatically reduce soybean yields. The conclusions is that research leading to the development of pest management methods needs to be continued to provide farmers with economically viable and environmentally friendly tools to combat emerging and invasive pests.

Technical Abstract: Introduced to South Dakota in the 1940s, the number of soybean acres planted has increased from an average of 300,000 in the 1970s to a record 4.5 million acres planted in 2001. The economic numbers are astounding and explosive: the value of South Dakota soybean production has increased from $31 million in 1976 to over $800 million in 2003. South Dakota agricultural statistics indicate that soybean popularity may have reached a peak. Statewide, the number of acres planted to soybean first exceeded 4 million in 1999. From its peak at 4.5 million acres in 2001, the number of acres planted to soybean dropped to 4.2 million in 2002 and 2003 to 4.1 million in 2004. Last year, 3.9 million acres were planted to soybean in South Dakota, which represents a 13 percent reduction from the 2001 record. In the 1980s and 1990s, soybeans could be planted in the spring and harvested in the fall with little or no attention in between. Because of the large amount of acres planted and the short soybean/cereal grain rotations used, pests and diseases have adapted to soybeans and are now important management concerns for soybean farmers. Emerging insect pests, like the bean leaf beetle, and invasive insect pests, like the soybean aphid, can require pesticide applications for population management, which in turn increases production costs. Diseases, such as white mold and Sclerotinia stem rot, can reduce yields. The appearance of new pests, such as the soybean cyst nematode or the Asian soybean rust, have the potential to dramatically reduce soybean yields. It is concluded that, given the current economic importance of soybeans and the future importance of soybeans for renewable biodiesel fuels production, continued scientific research and development leading to the development of pest management methods needs to be conducted to provide farmers with economically viable and environmentally friendly tools to combat emerging and invasive pests.

Last Modified: 8/19/2014
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