Should there be any changes to soybean management after a drought?

Should there be any changes to soybean management after a drought? The short answer is not really. Every year is different and it’s hard to predict the future; however, we can do the best with what we are given.

Following a drought, soil moisture levels are lower than normal. When this occurs it’s important to help recharge the soil with any moisture outside of the growing season. While we can’t make it rain, we can implement management practices that help decrease the loss of soil moisture. This includes using minimum tillage or no-till systems in a future soybean field compared to conventional tillage. No-till and minimum tillage practices generally retain more residue on the soil surface which can help reduce soil and moisture loss over the winter months. In the spring, the residue helps retain soil moisture by helping to reduce evaporation because less soil is exposed to direct sun light.

Besides implementing management practices to reduce soil moisture loss, soybean management production practices remain similar. Fertilizer application amounts and timing remains the same. Select a mid to later maturing soybean product for your relative maturity zone. If planting soybean seed into a no-till environment, the seeding rate should be increased by an additional 5 to 10% to account for additional plant losses during emergence. It is suggested to use row cleaners and place the seed into soil moisture at planting to create good seed to soil contact. This may mean placing the seed 1.5 to 2 inches deep. Soybean planting dates remain the same; however, the seeds may need to accumulate a few more growing degree units (GDUs) before emergence due to the deeper placement. Besides the few planter changes at planting, most other production practices should mimic a more “normal” year. 

Katherine Rod

Technical Agronomist


Bergman, R. and Powell, L., 2021. Considerations for no-till and high-residue fields in a predicted dry season. Integrated Crop Management. Iowa State University.

Anderson, M. and Licht, M. 2021. Soybean seed depth in dry conditions. Integrated Crop Management. Iowa State University.

Al-Kaisi, M. 2018. Let’s talk no-till. Integrated Crop Management. Iowa State University.

Al-Kaisi, M. and Hanna, M. 2009. No-till is better choice for soybean after corn. Integrated Crop Management. Iowa State University.

Web sites verified 9/21/21.


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