2010: A Good Year For Soybean Inoculants?

US - The natural response to soybean inoculants may be enhanced in the 2010 crop year because of a wet fall last year, one specialist says.
calendar icon 11 February 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

"We had a very, very wet fall and rhizobial bacteria do not survive wet conditions well at all," Jim Beuerlein, retired Ohio State University extension agronomist told AgricultureOnline.

"And, I've already seen some long-range forecasts for a wetter-than-normal spring planting season. Those factors lead me to believe there will be a good response to the use of soybean inoculants, or enhanced soybean treatments that contain a rhizobial component, this year."

The process of inoculation is the application of commercially available rhizobia bacteria to the seed or into soil where a legume, such as soybeans, will be planted. Rhizobia are the key active ingredient in most legume inoculant products.

According to a company report, the presence of rhizobia is necessary for a legume to be able to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form usable by the plant. This process is referred to as nitrogen fixation.

"Give the product a try in a side-by-side comparison and be sure to keep the evaluation honest," Mr Beuerlein says. "Have a professional apply the product so the beans are uniformly treated at the correct rate. It's very easy to either over-apply or under-apply which can create planting problems or failure to achieve the expected response."

A second important step, Mr Beuerlein says, is to plant the beans soon after treatment. Viability of the rhizobia on the seed will vary by product used and any other chemical treatments applied to the seed.

"Planting within 35 or 40 days of treatment is usually fine," he says. "But growers need to follow the recommendations provided by the inoculant manufacturer or seed treater, and the seed should always be stored in a cool, dry place until ready to plant."

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