2017 Ultimate Soybean Challenge



Three teams have been tasked with selecting their own unique combination of soybean management practices and crop inputs in the quest to be crowned the winner of the Ultimate Soybean Challenge (USC)! Winners will be determined in two categories: yield and profit. The goal is for each team to take on a unique strategy for crop management and inputs, representing the different approaches that farmers may take in crop production.


This replicated and randomized field trial testing different soybean management strategies is once again located at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) site in Portage la Prairie. Soil characteristics, tillage prior to seeding, rolling, seeding date, and harvest date will be the same across treatments. All other management practices will be determined by the team leaders. Updates on crop progress and management will be provided throughout the growing season. Stay tuned to @MBPulseGrowers on Twitter for updates!


An 11-acre parcel of land previously seeded to tillage radish will be divided among the three soybean management strategies. The soil is an imperfectly drained Neuhorst clay loam with a pH of 8.4 and 6.9% organic matter. Soil test results include 33 lb/ac of nitrate-N (0-24 inches), 13 ppm of Olsen P, and 414 ppm of K. Soybeans have been grown only once in this field’s history.


TEAM A: Cassandra Tkachuk, MPSG Production Specialist, along with Kristen MacMillan Podolsky, U of M Research Agronomist, aim to follow best management practices, choosing practices and inputs that are most likely to maximize yield and net return.

TEAM B:  Terry Buss, Manitoba Agriculture Farm Production Extension Specialist, along with Dennis Lange, Manitoba Agriculture Industry Development Specialist, are trying to maximize yield and return by reducing costs of big ticket items (seed) but spending more on small cost items.

TEAM C: Curtis Cavers, CMCDC Agronomist along with soil advisor John Heard is choosing novel practices to ensure differences in production are observed and to alleviate concerns of a “home field advantage.”

 Team ATeam BTeam C
Variety SelectedAkras R2S007-Y4OAC Prudence
Inoculant(s)Liquid + granularLiquidPeat
Seed TreatmentNoneCruiserMaxx Vibrance +
Heads Up Plant Protectant (fungicide + insecticide)
Evergol Energy (fungicide only)
Seeding EquipmentAir seeder 9" spacingPlanter 30" spacingPlanter 30" spacing
Seeding Rate (seeds/ac)190,000150,000150,000
Anticipated Weed Control1-2 glyphosate passes 3 glyphosate passesTrifluralin, rotary hoe + inter-row cultivation, in-crop herbicide if escapes unacceptable
Tissue TestingYesYesYes
Foliar NutrientsNoneDepending on tissue testNone


Ultimate Soybean Challenge 2016


July 19, 2017 July 6, 2017 June 13, 2017 June 7, 2017 May 31, 2017 May 24, 2017
July 19, 2017

All soybeans are at the R2 stage of development. Soybean management strategies can be visually distinguished one from another due to differences in row spacing and weed control.  Team C plots have had five rounds of inter-row cultivation, but weeds such as volunteer tillage radish and thistle are present in high numbers within rows.

Nodulation was assessed by counting the number of live root nodules on five random plants per plot (3 treatments x 3 reps = total of 9 plots), calculating the average for each team. All teams had adequate nodulation (recommendation: 5-10 nodules per plant for maximized yield), but Team A soybeans had double the amount of nodules (14 per plant) compared to Teams B and C (7 nodules per plant). This was likely due to double inoculation on a field that had no previous history of soybeans.

July 6, 2017

Soybeans are now at the 4th trifoliate (V4) stage with the 5th trifoliate beginning to unfurl. Team A plots received a 2nd glyphosate application due to heavy weed pressure. Team B plots received a 3rd glyphosate application also due to weed pressure and sticking to the “game plan.” Manual weed control continues for Team C plots, which recently received another round of inter-row cultivation.

June 13, 2017


Soybeans are now at the unifoliate (VC) stage of development. Some areas have had rabbit feeding damage (see image); however, plants have the ability to continue growth from the axillary buds, producing double-stemmed soybean plants.

June 7, 2017

Soybeans are continuing to emerge in dry conditions through large soil clods. They are currently at the VE (cotyledon) stage of development. Shallow seeding of Team B and C plots has left some soybean seeds sitting on the soil surface in some areas. We will see how this affects final plant stand in a few weeks.


May 31, 2017

Soybeans seeded on May 24th have germinated. Differences in germination sparked the question: Does seeding depth influence the speed of germination under drier soil moisture conditions? The hypocotyl length was greater for soybeans seeded slightly deeper in Team A plots (~1.25″ depth) compared to the shallower depth of Team B and C plots (~0.5″ depth). In a year with drier soil conditions, shallower depth may have contributed to slower germination. However, seeding of Team B and C plots at later hours than Team A plots may have also played a role.

May 24, 2017

All Ultimate Soybean Challenge plots were seeded on May 24, 2017! Soybeans were seeded on the shallow side with the expectation of rain immediately after seeding. Seeding conditions were good despite the windy weather.