Tune In for Top Tips on KTIC Radio: When, where, and why to inoculate soybeans

Listen to this week’s Tune In for Top Tips on KTIC Radio:

This is Dr. Nathan Mueller, your local agronomist with Nebraska Extension for Dodge and Washington counties. Last time our Tune In for Top Tips was to diversify soybean relative maturities and diminish risk. This week’s Tune In for Top Tips is to know when, where, and why to inoculate soybeans.

The process of fixing nitrogen in the soil air to ammonia occurs through the symbiotic relationship between soybeans and the Bradyrhizobium bacteria within the nodules of soybean roots. This process provides soybean plants up to 75% of the N they need; the remaining amount is taken up from the soil.

Your soybean field likely fits into one of three situations. First, your field has no previous history of soybeans, but rather few fields like this are left. Second, it has been more than five years since soybeans were grown or soybeans have been grown in rotation every two to three years, but an environmental factor may have negatively impacted survival of the bacteria. Third, soybeans have been grown in the rotation every two or three years and environmental conditions have been good.

In the case of situation number two, several environmental factors can cause poor nodulation, decrease nitrogen fixation, and reduce survival of these bacteria, including non-optimal soil pH, an extended flood or drought. In these situations, yield increases of 1 to 10 bushels per acre could be expected by using inoculants.   

The probability of a yield response in fields with a recent history of soybeans and good conditions for bacteria is extremely low.  An eight-year study from 2000-2008 tested 51 inoculant products in 73 experiments in Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, and Nebraska and the average yield response of 0 bu/ac. If you have managed soil pH well, planted soybeans recently, have medium to heavy textured soil, and have not experienced extended droughts or floods, direct your money away from inoculating soybeans and move it to other management options that have an improved chance of return.

Therefore, Tune In for Top Tips this week is to know when, where, and why to inoculate soybeans. To listen to this radio message again and to get more information, visit our local website at croptechcafe.org or give me a call at 727-2775. Know your crop, know your tech, know your bottom line. This is Dr. Nathan Mueller, your local agronomist for Nebraska Extension on KTIC radio.

Get even newer information on this topic at CropWatch: Making Data-Driven Decisions on Soybean Inoculation

Tune In for Top Tips on KTIC Radio: When, where, and why to inoculate soybeans
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