Managing soybean symbionts to boost yields

An agronomist for crop science company Verdesian says adding a bacteria to soybean fields yearly can help growers increase production to match growing biofuel and renewable diesel demand.

“This relationship has existed for thousands of years,” said Kurt Seever. “It will always work.”

Seever tells Brownfield meeting the growing soybean demand might push more farmers to plant continual soybeans which could impact a key group of bacteria microorganisms called rhizobia.

“The more things we change in production, the more we have to look at what kind of impact we might be having,” he said.

While he said planting continuous soybeans hasn’t shown substantial loss of rhizobia, Seever recommends applying new rhizobia yearly after the soybean seed is in the furrow.

“So, those roots that are following the furrow will be exposed to some of the innoculant rhizobia that’s between the seeds,” Seever said.

He said applying the bacteria costs between $3 to $5 an acre and increases yields up to two bushels an acre, and with $14 soybeans…

“That investment is returning somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 [or] 6, maybe even 7 – 1,” he said.

Seever said rhizobia does not directly help prevent heightened disease risk from continual soybean fields.

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