Wet Fall Equals Greater Need For Soybean Inoculants

“We had a very, very wet fall and rhizobial bacteria do not survive wet conditions well at all,” says Jim Beuerlein, retired Ohio State University extension agronomist and technical advisor to inoculant manufacturer Becker Underwood. “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,” Beuerlein says. “We always expect a positive response to inoculants, but these abnormally wet conditions across the Corn Belt will likely result in a greater response than usual.”

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.

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.

Beuerlein has evaluated rhizobial inoculants in hundreds of field trials over many years and reports an average yield increase of 1.94 bushels per acre for inoculated seed. “Of course, we saw premium quality products which did much better than this average, and some questionable products that showed little or no advantage,” Beuerlein says.

“Most evaluations are performed in fields that essentially offer optimum growing conditions for soybeans – fields planted to a corn/soybean rotation – and we’ve still seen an average yield advantage of nearly two bushels per acre,” Beuerlein says. “In many instances, I believe soybean growers could see even better results in their own fields, especially when using a quality product that provides high rhizobia counts.”

Beuerlein offers the following tips for soybean growers considering the use of a soybean inoculant, or enhanced soybean treatments containing a rhizobial component, in 2010. “Give the product a try in a side-by-side comparison and be sure to keep the evaluation honest,” he 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, 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.”

Scott McKee, a soybean grower from Hawarden, Iowa, was a first-time soybean inoculant user in 2009. He participated in an inoculant yield challenge program sponsored by Becker Underwood. The experiment, he says, proved very worthwhile.

“We like to try different things to see how they impact yield. We always need to be experimenting and I think the Vault LVL soybean inoculant we used did make a difference.”

McKee planted four trials covering a variety of soil types and topography. The Vault LVL soybean inoculant-treated plots yielded an average 4 bushels-per-acre more than the untreated. Each field had been in corn in 2008.

“The treated beans were greener, looked healthier and seemed to have more vigor at emergence,” McKee says. “I’d never used an inoculant before, but it seems like more people now are. It was definitely worthwhile to do and I know we’ll use an inoculant again this year.”

Ken Koenig, Sandborn, Indiana, also participated in the Vault LVL Yield Challenge in 2009 and reported a 6 bushel-per-acre advantage for the inoculant-treated plot compared to the untreated.

“We had an awfully wet spring,” Koenig says. “We planted the untreated beans first, then got delayed by rain and didn’t plant the inoculant-treated beans until a week later.”

Koenig says his seed dealer treated the beans and ran the harvest check through a weigh wagon. He calls the yield boost impressive as the trial location was “certainly not our prime ground. And, with soybeans at $10 a bushel, that extra yield really makes a difference.”

“Return on investment for inoculation is excellent,” Beuerlein says. “At current soybean prices, it only takes about a third of a bushel to break even.”

“Our evaluations have shown that, over time, inoculants deliver a 300 percent to 500 percent return on investment, and they do this over a wide range of soil types and production systems,” Beuerlein says. “To me, soybean inoculants, or enhanced soybean treatments that contain a rhizobial component, like the new Vault HP system from Becker Underwood, are one of the most consistently profitable inputs growers can use in their operations.”

Leave a Reply

Adjuvants Stories

AdjuvantsAdjuvants 2014: Who Needs Good Crop Prices?
March 3, 2014
Apparently not the adjuvants market as new herbicide technologies and other influences have manufacturers ramping up production in anticipation of another splendid season for adjuvant adoption. Read More
AdjuvantsNew Adjuvants Report Forecasts A Growing Market
November 1, 2013
The global agriculture adjuvant market valued at around $2 million in 2012 is expected to to reach nearly $3 million by 2018. Read More
AdjuvantsAdjuvants: Activating Yields
March 1, 2013
Manufacturers are ramping up production of specialty adjuvants as the tank mix takes center stage in the weed resistance fight. Read More

Trending Articles

Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More

Latest News

InsecticidesValent U.S.A., MGK Form Marketing Agreement
October 24, 2014
Valent has formed an agreement with Minneapolis-based MGK to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products within the U.S. beginning April 1, 2015. Read More
StewardshipFlorida’s 4R Advocate Keeps Improving
October 24, 2014
Florida farmer Alan Jones uses the 4R principles of nutrient stewardship as the core of his fertility program, which allows him to maximize production and keep costs in check. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Named One Of The World’s Best Multinational …
October 23, 2014
Monsanto ranked No. 8 in the world’s largest annual study of workplace excellence that identifies the top 25 best multinational companies in terms of workplace culture. Read More
Crop InputsArysta Hires Former Agri-Chem, CPS Employee For Delta S…
October 23, 2014
New Territory Sales Manager Mark Peel’s primary role will focus on working with growers regarding fungicides in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Appointments In Plant Food Division
October 22, 2014
GROWMARK, Inc. has announced the three key staff changes in its Plant Food Division. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Appoints New VP Of Finance And Risk Management
October 22, 2014
Wade Mittelstadt has been named GROWMARK Vice President, Financial and Risk Mangement, effective December 1, 2014. Read More
FungicidesEPA Approves BASF In-Furrow Corn Fungicide
October 22, 2014
Field trials show Xanthion In-furrow fungicide provides more rapid emergence, extended residual control and improved seedling health than untreated crops. Read More
EquipmentAgraScout App Available At No Cost To Universities
October 21, 2014
AgraScout, a fast and easy to use mobile crop scouting app, is now available at no cost to University students, Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Program To Provide Relief To Farmers Affe…
October 21, 2014
The USDA has implemented a new Farm Bill initiative that will provide relief to farmers affected by severe weather, including drought. Read More
ManagementGreenfield Scholars Program Aims To Sustain Agronomy Wo…
October 21, 2014
The program encourages talented students to study agronomy, crop and soil sciences while cultivating networks to develop the necessary workforce to sustain the profession. Read More
Paul SchrimpfPrecision Ag: Taking It To The Hill
October 21, 2014
A new coalition took the good news message of precision agriculture to Washington, DC, last month. Read More
ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million In Small Business Research Gran…
October 21, 2014
The grants will provide high quality, advanced research and development that will lead to technological innovations and solutions for American agriculture. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Terminates Merger Discussions With Yara I…
October 21, 2014
CF Industries Holdings and Yara International have terminated their discussions regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Ranked A Top 10 Biotech Employer For Third tim…
October 20, 2014
Syngenta ranked in the top 10 among the world’s top biotech employers, according to an annual survey conducted by Science magazine. Read More
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Break Ground For New Facility At Kennebec
October 20, 2014
Wheat Growers has broke ground for a state-of-the-art shuttle loader grain handling, fertilizer and agronomy facility in Kennebec, SD. Read More
FertilizerVerdesian Life Sciences Signs Agreement With Los Alamos…
October 20, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has signed a licensing agreement with Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop and market LANL’s latest nitrogen enhancement technology for plants. Read More
MicronutrientsStoller Group Announces Groundbreaking At New Office Bu…
October 20, 2014
Jerry Stoller, founder and president of Stoller Group, announced the groundbreaking at the site of the company’s future headquarters in Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Opens New Production Facility In Nevada
October 20, 2014
BioSafe Systems has completed construction of a state-of-art production facility in Sparks, NV, for its line of activated peroxygen products. Read More