Adding Nodules: The True Power of an Inoculant

Some schools of thought say that selecting what seed to plant is the most important decision farmers make all year. Kurt Seevers, technical development manager, seed treatments & inoculants at Verdesian Life Sciences, says that with soybeans, choosing and applying an inoculant should come just as naturally. 

"During the past 10 years, the quality of inoculants on the market has become so much better, with a significant increase in the number of rhizobia included," says Kurt Seevers, technical development manager, seed treatments & inoculants at Verdesian Life Sciences. "Now, with an inoculant, there is the potential for an improvement in yield every time beans go in the ground."

Without an inoculant, soybeans are dependent on the native populations of rhizobia in the soil to help the soybean plants fix nitrogen. Over time, these rhizobia get comfortable living in the soil, instead of working with a host plant. They end up with a reduced ability to fix nitrogen, especially compared to the rhizobia strains used in commercial inoculant products.

Inoculants bring more nitrogen into the plant by adding nodules and fixing more nitrogen for the plant when compared to the native rhizobia populations. This early nodulation creates more secondary and feeder roots for potentially more nodulation sites, which increases nutrient uptake and creates greater yield potential. 

"If the seed is inoculated, you don’t have to wait for the roots to reach out and find rhizobia to work with," says Seevers. "They’re right there waiting when the roots emerge, so they can get a head start on that yield-increasing nodule development."