Andile Skosana – African Farming

SOYA BEANS – Andile Skosana, Balmoral, Witbank, Mpumalanga

The effects of climate change have been evident for the past few years. Changing rain patterns are an example: the first rains usually would have fallen by this stage.

This year we plan to plant soya beans on 800ha and, in spite of the late rains, we have started preparations for planting. The lands we target first are semi-sandy ones that are not too compacted and difficult to cultivate.

We rip, disc and then roll to break up clods and level fields. We’ll have to wait for the rain before we can start cultivation on other lands, especially the predominantly red soil areas.

Once soil moisture and temperatures are suitable, the planting starts. We don’t put down fertiliser because soya beans aren’t heavy nutrient feeders. Unlike maize, soya beans do well on soil reserves that have built up over time through the fertilising of previous crops in rotation.

While soya takes up these soil reserves, it also fixes nitrogen and puts it back into the soil. The seed must be inoculated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria before planting.

After planting, depending on the weeds, we’ll apply Roundup to kill off weeds that might compete with the crop. We plant Roundup-ready seed. This first application of Roundup will help control weeds until the crop canopies in five to six weeks. Once it has canopied, weed problems are unlikely, especially if the plant population is good.

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