Soybean is a multipurpose crop that may be cultivated for oil and protein. It is among the world’s and India’s most significant oilseed crops. Introduced to India in the late 1960s, Soybeans grow on around 11.8 million hectares, yielding close to 13.5 million tonnes. Farmers all over the country in different areas cultivate soybean. The crop demands different cropping patterns depending on the climate, soil, and market circumstances. Here are some factors to think along the lines of before planting soybeans.
Climate for Cultivation
Soybean is a warm and humid crop that grows best in temperatures ranging from 20 to 35 degrees Celsius. It cannot withstand frost or extremely high temperatures exceeding 40°C. It may be cultivated at elevations ranging from sea level to 1200-2000 metres. During the growing season, soybean requires around 90 cm of rain, although excess moisture or waterlogging can reduce crop output and quality.
Ideal Soil for Soybean
Cultivation Soybean can adapt to a wide range of soils, from sandy to clayey, but prefers well-drained clay loam soils with a pH of 5.5-7.5. Slightly acidic soils can be corrected by applying dolomite before sowing. The ground should have organic matter and nitrogen-fixing bacteria in it to enhance the nodulation and nitrogen fixation of soybean roots. The soil should also have good water-holding capacity and aeration to avoid water stress or root rot.
Varieties of Soybeans
Various agricultural institutes and research centres have created different types of soybeans in India. Popular variations include NRC 37, NRC 7, NRC 12, and MACS-450. Each variety has unique properties like yield potential, maturity time, disease resistance, seed size, oil content, protein content, etc. Therefore, you should select a variety appropriate for your agro-climatic circumstances and market demand.
Either you can sow the seeds directly into the ground or get them out of a nursery. Both ways are good for making soybeans grow well. Fungicides and bioagents aid in preventing seed-borne diseases. They also help improve the germination process of the seeds. Keeping the seeds immersed in water make them grow better. Seeds germinate in around 24 hours and grow leaves in about 2-3 days. The seed rate depends on the variety, spacing, and method of sowing but generally ranges from 60-80 kg/ha.
You can cultivate soybeans year-round as long as irrigation is well provided. However, the plant needs sunshine, and during monsoon, this usually might be a problem due to mostly cloudy days.
The soil must be carefully worked so that it is loose and fragile. Rotary cultivators can be used for dividing tubers and levelling fields. Depending on the rainfall and drainage conditions, a bed or ridge with a width of 1 meter and a height of 20-30 cm should be prepared. Height should be higher during monsoon season to avoid waterlogging. The distance between beds or ridges should be 50 cm. You can lay these ridges and beds with the help of a specialised implement mounted on your Mahindra 275 DI XP Plus.
After the bed or ridge is laid, drip irrigation pipes should be installed for efficient water use, followed by mulch to prevent weed growth and water loss. Mulching may cost Rs 15,000 per hectare but will save a lot on labour and water bills. Soy does not need a trellis because it is a bushy, upright plant.
Planting, spacing and density
With proper spacing and placement, you can grow 26,600 plants in one. Sow the seeds in the field directly or grow it in a nursery and then transplant it on the field. Treat the seeds with fungicides or biological agents to prevent seed-borne diseases and promote germination. Soak all the seeds for 5-6 hours and treat with fungicide. Next, apply insecticides to prevent ants from consuming the seeds in the pit. Sow the seeds 2 centimeters deep and rinse immediately.
Intercropping is a good practice to increase the productivity and profitability of soybean production. Furthermore, intercropping soybean with cotton, arhar, sugarcane and groundnut would be ideal, and choose the crop for the area you reside in. Intercropping also reduces the chances for your soybean crop to get diseases and pest issues.
Irrigation is an important factor in successful soybean cultivation. Soybeans need adequate moisture throughout the growing season, but excessive moisture or waterlogging can affect yield and quality. Drip irrigation with mulch is the best solution for efficient water use and weed control. Experts recommend not to go for flood irrigation because it causes water wastage and weed problems. The frequency and amount of irrigation depends on soil type, rainfall, crop stage and variety, but usually 6-8 waterings every 10-15 days is a must.
To begin with, harvesting starts around four months after sowing, depending on the variety and weather conditions. Start the harvesting process when the pods are fully mature and dry, but before they shatter and drop the seeds. To avoid the days heat, start harvesting in the early morning or wait till the evening. Harvest the plants by cutting them at the base with a sickle or a harvester.
Once you harvest them, thresh the plants down to take the seeds out of the pods and stalks. You can either thresh manually by beating the plants on a hard surface or using a thresher machine. Clean the seeds in order to remove any dirt, stones, or damaged seeds. Next, dry the seeds, reducing the moisture content by 10-12% for safe storage. A well-ventilated silo that’s cool and dry is where you should be storing your soybeans in gunny bags or bins.
In conclusion, we shall look at soybean yield as a crop. Soybean yields up to 1.5 to 2.5 tonnes per hectare. How much it yields will greatly depend on variety, agronomic practices, and meteorological conditions, not to mention the type of machinery that you use. For example, tractors such as the Mahindra 575 DI XP Plus can make your job easier, and increase the yield as well! Madhya Pradesh boasts most soybean output in India in 2019-20, with 3.2 tonnes per hectare. High-yielding cultivars, correct seed treatment, balanced fertilisation, timely watering, weed management, pest and disease control, and intercropping can all help boost soybean output.