Published on Thu, 11/17/2016 by BASF Canada

Maximizing soybean production: The importance of inoculation

In agriculture, practices and standards are constantly evolving to maximize crop health and yield. In soybeans, common practice is to inoculate first-time soybean fields, in order to stimulate higher numbers of nitrogen-fixing rhizobia bacteria that promote plant health and help increase yield. However, agronomists are now encouraging growers to always inoculate, and even to double inoculate established soybean fields.

The rhizobia bacteria Bradyrhizobium japonicum is key for a healthy, successful soybean crop. When planted, soybean roots emit specific chemicals, called flavonoids, to attract rhizobia. The rhizobia then enter into the root and form nodules. The nodules convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonium that the plant can use for growth. However, rhizobial populations can be reduced by environmental stresses and native rhizobia are not as efficient at fixing nitrogen. As a result, agronomists are now encouraging growers to inoculate every soybean field, every year.

Inoculating is a reliable way to prevent losses and increase yield potential by ensuring that soybean plants have enough nitrogen to thrive. “By putting an inoculant on the seed, you’re guaranteeing that that seed has instant access to healthy, robust rhizobia and that it’s ready to start self-affixing nitrogen through the production of nodules,” said Mike Verhoef, National Seed Company Manager with BASF Canada. “Even if a grower has grown soybeans on a field before and there will be rhizobia there, it doesn’t mean that those are the healthy, robust rhizobia that the plants need.”

To help give soybeans a boost of rhizobia, growers can use an inoculant such as Nodulator PRO, a biostacked system, with two beneficial biologicals. The first biological, rhizobia, helps maximize nodulation. This maximized nodulation results in an increased fixation of nitrogen for higher yield potential. The second biological, Integral biofungicide, helps to suppress seedling diseases and improve root architecture. Field research shows that applying the two beneficial biologicals present in the Nodulator PRO system can provide up to a six percent yield advantage, compared to inoculants that are not biostacked with two beneficial biologicals.

Not all inoculants in the marketplace are alike, and growers may want to consider an inoculant with a biofungicide that comes in an easy-to-use liquid formulation, which is applied on-seed exclusively by bulk seed treaters. Such applications provide longer inoculant on-seed survivability to ensure that soybeans get off to a strong start.

Fred Greig owns and operates Avondale Seed Farm in Reston, Manitoba. Greig used Nodulator PRO on his soybeans in 2015. “Nodulator PRO has a lower application rate and a higher bacteria count, so that serves our customers pretty well. In the past we’ve had trouble with too much liquid going on when we’re applying a liquid and a seed treatment, but we had success with Nodulator PRO. It dried quickly and we haven’t heard any complaints,” he said.

Proper inoculation is key to successful soybean growth and production. The best way to ensure that soybeans are properly inoculated and have adequate rhizobia is to apply a full-rate of inoculant on-seed or in-furrow, or to provide both via double inoculation.

Nodulator N/T LQ and Nodulator N/T Peat are easy-to-use inoculants that can be applied on-seed. Like Nodulator PRO, Nodulator N/T LQ and Peat are also biostacked with rhizobia and MBI600 for a greater root biomass and more nitrogen-fixing nodules on every plant. For in-furrow liquid applications, the Nodulator LQ formulation is available. Granular in-furrow options include Nodulator Granular, or Nodulator Solid Core Granule, which features uniformly sized, easy flow clay granules for more accurate metering and precise placement in-furrow.

Kevin Rempel works for Friesen Seeds Ltd. in Rosenort, Manitoba. He says the operation encourages area growers to double inoculate. “We promote two forms of inoculant going down. The first would be Nodulator PRO on-seed. Then for guys with air carts and drills, we promote the Solid Core, while for the planters, we follow it up with Nodulator Peat,” he said. “We really like the Nodulator Solid Core for the fact that it’s really good for flowability. We just find that it works really good with running through the meters on the air cart.”

Prevent losses, promote plant health and increase yield potential by ensuring that there is sufficient nodulation for soybean success. Look to inoculants to help crops thrive.


© 2016 BASF Canada Inc.