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

Green Valley Ag facility
Retail FacilitiesGreen Valley Ag Adopts A.J. Sackett’s Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology At New Facility
July 8, 2014
Sackett's Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology is making huge strides around the world. Green Valley Ag adopts the technology at its new facility to support its advancing agronomic needs. Read More
Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More

Latest News

StewardshipMonsanto Joins Panel Of Innovators To Advance Research …
July 30, 2014
Monsanto Co. and The Climate Corp., its division, recently joined a roundtable of experts at the White House to share ideas and research approaches to help the world’s farmers manage and adapt to the impact of climate change on the global food supply. Read More
Crop InputsSoybean Checkoff Produces Big ROI
July 30, 2014
Under the soy checkoff program, all U.S. soybean farmers contribute a small percentage of their gross soybean sales for research and marketing projects that maximize their profit potential. Read More
CropLife 100Learfield Sports, CHS Agree To Football-Centric, Colleg…
July 30, 2014
CHS Inc. will embark on a highly integrated collegiate sports sponsorship platform with 24 Division I universities in 19 states designed to reach the farmer-owned cooperative's rural owners and customers. Read More
LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Forms New Organizational Structure For Its…
July 30, 2014
The new structure will provide more responsive internal support and will allow regional vice presidents and area managers to spend more time with customers, on talent development and on operational excellence across branches. Read More
Palmer pigweed in cotton
HerbicidesNew Training Modules On Herbicide Resistance Now Availa…
July 30, 2014
The Weed Science Society of America has announced the availability of three new education modules on herbicide resistance in weeds. Read More
HerbicidesWillowood To Market Glufosinate
July 28, 2014
Willowood USA recently announced that Federal EPA has approved its technical registration for glufosinate. Read More
InsecticidesHow To Scout For Corn Earworms In Corn
July 28, 2014
In her weekly report, University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt discusses what to look for when scouting for corn earworm. Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer, Weyerhaeuser Enter Technology License A…
July 28, 2014
The agreement brings together agricultural and forestry know-how to sustainably improve crop productivity for corn growers around the world. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Launches Global iPad App
July 28, 2014
The free AGCO Global iPad App can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes Store and features the full family of RoGator self-propelled sprayers and TerraGator high-floatation spreaders. Read More
Eric SfiligojYuma Centennial Ag Supply Earns 2014 National Environme…
July 28, 2014
Colorado-based ag retailer receives top trophy in 24th annual DuPont Crop Protection/CropLife ceremony. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More