Soybean School: Inoculant Throwdown — A Small Thing with a Mighty Big Responsibility

Those with seasoned soybean ground may be tempted to skip the inoculant, but depending on the type of soil you have and what conditions were like last year, an inoculant investment now should payback in-season.

As Shawn Brenneman, Syngenta agronomist and sometimes soothsayer, explains to RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin in this Soybean School, inoculant payback is pretty consistent, even on rotated ground. That’s partially because inoculant is a living thing — rhizobia bacteria are what fixes the nitrogen for the crop — and living things can die off. Those farmers with sandy soils, soils with a pH below 6.0, or those that had flooded or wet fields last year may not be able to rely on existing populations of bacteria to support this year’s soybean crop.

If you’re committed to inoculating, should you use one source or two?  Brenneman tackles why two sources of inoculant offer added insurance for nodulation and fixation, plus goes on to explain when to evaluate the effectiveness of the nodulation. And what happens if you didn’t inoculate, missed passes or if you did but conditions worked against you? Do you add nitrogen as a rescue? Brenneman offers advice on that, too.

And, to build off of his reputation for predicting fieldwork timelines, Bern’s last question involves when we’ll see tailights on this planting season — all that in the video (or audio!) below.

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