Drought Stress in Ontario Soybean
October 29, 2012
A three-year project, led by Grain Farmers of Ontario, focused on comparing soybean yields under both rainfed and water-replete (irrigated) conditions. With an investment of $40,269 from the Farm Innovation Program (FIP), the project quantified yield losses associated with naturally occurring water stress, the underlying contributors to the loss, and identified plant traits that enhanced soybean yield under dry soil conditions.
The results indicate that soil water deficits can significantly reduce yields of otherwise high-yielding soybean crops in Ontario, even in years when there are no obvious outward signs of water stress. This suggests that current efforts by plant breeders to increase drought tolerance of soybean varieties adapted to Ontario are well warranted. Specific traits that could be beneficial in this regard include: conservation of soil moisture through enhanced plant water use efficiency, ability to set and retain relatively high numbers of pods even when mild water stresses occur, and reduced susceptibility to accelerated biological aging under mild soil water deficits.
This project was funded in part through Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of several Growing Forward programs in Ontario.