From the Farm: Adding Sulfur to Soybeans

Agriculture

URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) – As farmers look to get better yields in soybeans, soybean promotion agencies want them to raise soybeans with higher protein content for better livestock performance. But there is a problem with that: with higher yields, protein levels go in the different direction.

Vitor Favoretto, who is from Brazil and a soybean researcher at the University of Illinois, has found a way to maybe solve that problem.

“That’s conveniently enough my Ph.D. research here at the university, and the way we are studying it or investigating it is with sulfur fertilization,” Favoretto said. “In recent years, sulfur has been in the spotlight there because we have been depleting our soils with sulfur and fertilization of soybeans is being overlooked in a sense here in the Midwest for some time, especially on sulfur. And applying sulfur on soybeans is important for higher yields and maintaining that protein at a higher level.”

Favoretto went on to explain what makes sulfur fertilization the key to higher yields and higher protein.

“Sulfur is a component of amino acids and amino acids are protein precursors of the protein concentration of soybeans,” Favoretto explained. “So it is important for you to have your sulfur fertility for not only higher yields, but for higher protein concentration as well.”

How much sulfur is needed?

“Our research points to about 15 to 20 pounds per acre of sulfur, and if you have other nutrients with that sulfur it will be even better,” Favoretto responded.

The other nutrients Favoretto referenced are nitrogen or phosphorous.

According to Favoretto, adding more sulfur is going to keep the yield going up, and protein and amino acid content will turn around and go up too. It sounds simple enough.

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