Integrated Pest Management for Soybean Insects

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a comprehensive approach to insect, weed and disease management to protect against yield loss. IPM provides many benefits for farmers, society and the environment. IPM practices offer farmers flexibility, good use of resources, opportunities to increase yields and profits, new technology and reduced potential for weed resistance.

IPM for insects includes planting soybeans with traits that confer resistance to insects and other pests, using seed treatments, scouting and identifying insect pests, making timely insecticide applications when needed and using cultural practices to diminish the threat from insects.

Variety selection

Consider insect resistance or tolerance when selecting soybean varieties. Diseases such as Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) and soybean mosaic virus (SMV) can infiltrate a plant’s defenses more easily if a plant has an injury from insect feeding. If a field has a history of a particular insect pest, select soybean varieties that have resistance or tolerance to that pest to provide an effective and economical method of control.

For example, choose a variety with resistance to Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS). SDS is a soilborne fungal disease that can occur as a disease complex with soybean cyst nematode (SCN), often resulting in early and more severe symptoms. SCN numbers can soar when susceptible varieties are grown.

Growers planting high-yielding varieties achieve excellent resistance or tolerance to major soybean pests and diseases such as SCN. Also, look for varieties with good tolerance to soybean mosaic virus (SMV) as the virus can be transmitted by insects such as aphids and bean leaf beetles.

Check with your local retailer, university Extension or consultant for soybean traits and varieties to fit your individual field history.

Seed treatments

Using the correct insecticide or nematicide seed treatment and rate is another way to provide effective and economical insect control in soybean production. Take the time to explore options that best fit circumstances in your fields.

Scouting

After soybeans emerge, consistent scouting, which includes sampling and insect identification, is the best way to know what pests are in the field and whether or not they will threaten yields and profits. Problem infestation areas may be related to soil conditions. If only one side of a field shows insect problems, it may be related to an invasion from a field border. Keep in mind that in soybean fields, problem areas with sharply defined edges could be a sign of insect damage, or they may be the result of nematode or herbicide injury.

When scouting fields, start at a different point each week. Pick a random pattern chosen in advance and walk without consciously choosing good or bad areas. Sample after regular intervals – every 20 steps or so. Walk to within 30 feet of each field edge, as many problems start from the sides of the field.

Take samples of insects and scan the entire field for possible insect damage while walking from one site to the next. Observe the plants around the sample site while looking for patterns or variations. If insects and damage are not easily identified, consult county Extension personnel or a pest identification guide.

Thresholds and best scouting methods vary by insect pest, soybean variety, timing of planting and geographic location. Thresholds for pest populations that require insecticide applications also vary, and the determination should be based on timely regional information from sources such as a university Extension service.

Insecticide applications

Timely, judicious use of foliar insecticides is also an important component of IPM in soybeans when insect counts indicate that pest populations have exceeded economic thresholds. To determine if an insecticide application is warranted, consider the growth stage of your soybeans. For example, soybean plants can withstand as much as 35 percent foliage loss up to the blooming period. During blooming and when pods begin to form and fill out, any foliage loss of more than 20 percent will decrease yield, according to Mississippi State University research.

Cultural practices

Cultural practices can affect insect pest populations. For example, try to plant soybeans away from buckthorn, which is a host plant needed to complete the soybean aphid lifecycle, a serious soybean pest. Spraying the edge of a soybean field adjacent to a cotton field is one tactic for controlling migrating insects. Residue management is another aspect of managing soybean insect populations. Certain insect pests favor fields with relatively higher soybean residue, such as reduced-tillage and double-crop soybeans.

Crop rotation also helps fend off insect populations. Soil sampling every few years to test for insect populations is another helpful practice. Be aware of populations of natural predators and parasites, which can often keep a pest population under economic threshold levels. Treatment thresholds can sometimes be increased in fields with high predator populations.

Weed Control

Certain insects carry (or transmit) diseases in soybeans. Controlling soybean weeds early helps protect against canopy insects such as leafhoppers, aphids and bean leaf beetles. Good weed control also reduces the chances that these pests will transmit viruses such as SMV. Timely herbicide applications reduce insect breeding areas in host weeds such as pigweeds, waterhemp and marestail.

Tillage

No-till production systems can intensify insect problems in many cases. Soybean aphids, bean leaf beetle, thrips and other insects may build up in grass sod and where previous crop residue has been left on the soil surface at planting. A herbicide burndown three to four weeks prior to planting can reduce infestation risks. When soil is disturbed during land preparation, scout for white grubs, wireworms and any other insects that may be exposed.

Bayer Solutions to Help Control Insect Pests in Soybeans

The best approach to managing insect pests in soybean is preventative control. Bayer offers season-long insect control options from seeds to seed treatments and foliar insecticide products.*

Credenz® soybeans from Bayer offer soybean growers a range of varieties, maturity groups and multiple traits, providing built-in protection against soybean cyst nematode (SCN) and sudden death syndrome (SDS), plus multiple herbicide-tolerant traits and disease control.  

Starting off with a good seed treatment is an excellent way to control insects and protect soybeans above and below the ground. The Bayer portfolio of seed treatment products offers the best seed-applied solutions available on the market today, from seedling disease protection to protection against early-season insect and nematodes.

Poncho®/VOTiVO® is an excellent seed treatment to help fight against important early season pests, including early season aphids, overwintering bean leaf beetles, thrips, wireworms, seed corn maggots and white grubs, as well as large spectrum protection against nematodes. Poncho, the systemic insecticidal component, is absorbed by new roots immediately, providing control of many critical early-season insect pests. VOTiVO, with its unique bacterial strain that lives and grows on young roots, creates a living barrier that prevents damage from all soilborne plant pathogenic nematodes, including soybean cyst nematode. This dual protection results in healthier plant establishment and a more uniform crop, positively impacting yields.

Additionally, ILeVO protects against both nematodes and the fungus responsible for Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS). Soybean seed treated with Poncho/VOTiVO and ILeVO® will have unmatched protection against early season insects, nematodes and SDS.

Another option for growers to control insect pests in soybeans is Baythroid® XL, a pyrethroid, which performs on a broad spectrum of insect pests with fast knockdown and long residual control. Application timing should be based on careful scouting and local economic thresholds.

Leverage® 360 with Stress Shield™ protection enhances the crop’s ability to handle a variety of biotic and abiotic stresses, such as soybean aphids, thereby maximizing yield potential.

Unlike many other insecticides, Leverage 360 moves in a way that allows it to reach the underside of the leaves. The Leverage 360 Stress Shield safeguards plants from environmental stresses and can be applied in a tankmix with a fungicide.

Common soybean insect pests. Learn more about common soybean insect pests and control recommendations:

Visit our soybean section for information on insect control options from Bayer to help soybean growers maximize yields and protect their soybean crops or contact your local Bayer representative.  

*Always read and follow label instructions and confirm the product is effective on the pest you need to control. Not all products are registered for use in every state. Baythroid XL and Leverage 360 are Restricted Use Pesticides.

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