Planting soybeans into sod is an option for producers looking to increase acres.  

Soybeans could generate a gross return of $500 per acre, or more, depending on yield and marketing. Soybeans are also a good option for producers who need to renovate pasture and hayfields.

Some producers have a lot of experience with soybeans while others may be looking at the crop for the first time. The following guidelines attempt to be applicable to both groups of producers.

Consider the following when converting sod to soybean:

• Inoculation is a must. Any field that has been out of soybeans for more than three years should be inoculated with Bradyrhizobium japonicum. The Bradyrhizobium are living organisms that will form nodules on the soybean roots and provide elemental nitrogen to the soybean plant. Soybeans require over 300 pounds of nitrogen per acre, so getting proper inoculation is absolutely critical. Liquid formulations may be preferred in this case simply because they have a better chance of getting good coverage of each seed. Since the risk of failure can be very expensive, use the highest rate of inoculant.

• Scout fields when soybeans have about three to four trifoliate leaves. Nodulation should occur by then. If nodulation has not occurred, there are some options for rescue treatments. None of the rescue treatments are as cheap as the inoculant.

• The vast majority of hay and pasture fields are potassium (K) deficient. Hay removes a lot of K2O from the soil, while pasture fields tend to remove a little less. Without even conducting a soil test, odds are very good that the sod will need about 60 pounds of K2O per acre.

• Soil test now, or as soon as the soil allows. A soil test represents 20 acres and will cost about $5 to $10 per sample. The fertilizer bill will be well over $1,000 for those same 20 acres. A soil test will tell you how much fertilizer you need, making sure you are spending money where it is needed. Pull about 10 to 20 cores, each 4 inches deep, for a 20-acre area. Mix all of the cores together and from that mix, send in a sample for testing.

• Apply potassium and phosphorus fertilizer according to the soil test recommendations. These applications can be made anytime before planting.