Extension researches soybeans to increase profitability and provide an alternative crop option for local producers
Alfalfa hay, alfalfa seed and small grains are the principal crops produced in Nevada’s Pershing County. Alfalfa hay remains by far the most important crop in terms of both acres harvested and value of production. Despite an 80 percent reduction in alfalfa seed acreage over the last nine years, it remains in second place, followed by “other hay” production. Small grains are grown as a rotational crop between the establishments of alfalfa crops. However, as Nevada is the driest state in the country, Nevada agricultural producers need to identify profitable low-water-use crops. Having faced a record-breaking drought 2012-2016, surface irrigation water supplies were greatly reduced, and groundwater levels are dropping in many locations. As a result, water resources are carefully managed and allocated. In Pershing County, the maximum water allotment from the Pershing County Water Conservation District is 3 feet of water per acre per year.
To increase the profitability of local farmers and provide an alternative crop option that can grow with Nevada’s limited water resources, Extension began the Soybean Production in Nevada Program in 2012. Extension conducted research, including partnering with a Pershing County producer in 2017 to design and manage a test plot of three different soybean varieties at three levels of maturity to determine if soybeans would grow in the Pershing County area; which variety would grow best in the area; and if soybeans could be grown profitably. A curriculum was developed, presented and evaluated. It was used as part of an all-day educational program in 2017 to teach producers the recommended practices for growing soybeans in Nevada. There were 18 farmers from Pershing County at the program in 2017.
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