Soybean (Glycine max)
Plant Characteristics: Annual plant with groups of three hairy leaflets and a raceme of white to pink flowers.
Establishment: Drought tolerant and adapted to well-drained soils. Soybeans should be planted between May or June at seeding ranges of 60 to 100 lb/ac. Soybean can be planted at population levels comparable to those recommended for grain production (100,000 plants/acre). Narrow row spacing (7.5 inches) produced 0.5 ton/acre or 17% more forage than when planted in wide rows (30 inches). Feeding value are not affected by either population density or row spacing. If using herbicides or insecticides, check the labels for any restrictions on feeding to livestock. Armyworms are a major problem in forage production.
Fertilization: Avoid acid, infertile soils. Follow the soil test recommendations for soybean harvested for grain. Phosphorous and Potassium applications can range from 20 to 65 lb/ac depending on soil testing. Lime to maintain a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.0.
Grazing/Hay Management: Can be used as high quality pasture or hay. In a short-grazing season (July to August) can produce yields of 2 to 5 tons/ac. One cut hay can be harvested when grains are 75% filled (near grain maturity at the R7 stage), but hay is difficult to cure and usually requires hay conditioning.
Forage Quality: Soybean forage contain approximately 15 to 20% CP, 30 to 32% ADF, 40 to 44% NDF, and 2 to 8% fat. Soybean forage quality is similar to that of alfalfa forage with 150 RFV. The major difference is that soybean forage contains a substantial amount of oil because of the contribution of seed and too much oil plus fat can reduce intake and fiber digestion. To avoid negative impacts reduce soybean to no more than 50% of the total ration dry matter.
Varieties/Cultivars: Round-up ready varieties are usually recommended to minimize reduce weed competition.