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The effectiveness of inoculation can be evaluated by looking at the amount, placement and colour of the nodules. • Amount and size of nodules: It is determined by the size of the plant and the nitrogen requirements of the host at the time. • Placement of the nodules: The placement of the nodules on the roots indicates when nodulation took place. A few large pink nodules high on the root crown indicate early and effective nodulation. The lower the nodules are on the root system, the later nodulation occurred and this happens typically when a high level of nitrogen is present in the soil. • Colour: The colour of a nodule that is cut open also indicates effectiveness and activity. Pink nodules indicates an infective and effective strain of rhizobia that nodulated the plant. Later in the season the nodule turns green, that indicates nitrogen fixation had stopped. A lot of small, white nodules over the whole root system indicate an ineffective strain was used to inoculate the plant or that resident rhizobia have nodulated the plant. WHAT WENT WRONG IF NO OR POOR NODULATION OCCURRED? Dr Peoples of Australia worked with the PPRI to investigate poor results obtained in the RSA. They found that: • RSA inoculants are of a high quality. • The problem lies mainly with incorrect application of the inoculant. It is very important to spend some time on studying the instructions carefully before seed treatment. 1. Make sure that the right inoculant is used. The bacteria are very specific and inoculants for beans, lucerne or groundnuts cannot be used for soybeans, and vice versa. 2. The application must be correct, i.e. at least one packet of inoculant per 12.5 kg lucerne seed under normal conditions. A sticker should be used to attach the inoculant to the seed. Stimulym can be used at 1.25 g for 12.5 kg lucerne seed.
INOCULATION OF LEGUMES
WHY INOCULATE? • Nitrogen fertilisation is the most expensive fertiliser on plants. • The reduction of N2 + 3H2 → 2NH3 requires 2 kg of diesel to reach the temperature and pressure required in the HaberBosch process (350ºC and 300 - 500 atm). • In biological nitrogen fixation, 2,2 to 2,5 kg of glucose is needed to produce 2 kg of NH3 (this is also expensive, but these costs are not covered by the farmer). • Furthermore, this process takes place under normal temperatures and pressures, by means of an enzyme system that includes molybdenum, iron and sulphur (therefore, molybdenum is essential for nitrogen fixation). • Large quantities of nitrogen are fixed annually through effective symbiosis between legume plants and rhizobia. • In order for this symbiosis to be effective, the correct bacterial symbiont is essential. • The correct, selected bacteria are then either added directly to the seed before planting or added in a liquid form to the seeds in the plant furrow after planting (at least a hundred thousand per soy seed, it will be a lot less for lucerne).
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but have now colonised the ground in which it survives well and out-competes other selected inoculants. since the rhizobia on the seed surface will die off over time. An overdose inoculant is not harmful. the ARC records can be checked. It can be applied as a liquid: • Suspend inoculant in water and filter through a linen bag. An effective nodule is large and pink as a result of the leghaemoglobin that is produced by the plant. selected inoculant strains (WB1 was used until a few years ago and was replaced by WB74). and that is why inoculants should not be used after it had expired. • The right number viable cells per seed is important. The PPRI recommended the use of molybdenum trioxide (MoO3). The carrier stays behind. • Look at the recommended dosage on the instruction pamphlet since it is different for each crop. This is why it is essential to use only the right. sometimes unavailable and difficult to dissolve in water.5). It is. • Not all contaminants are harmful. 5. • Infectiveness: The bacteria must be able to effectively penetrate the root hair and then establish in the root cortex to form a root nodule. INOCULATION OF LEGUMES . • Effectiveness: The rhizobia must be able to effectively bind nitrogen within the nodule. otherwise re-inoculate the seed again the next day. Currently they recommend applying sodium molybdate as leaf application if necessary (if the soil pH (water) is less than 5. preferably within 3 hours of treatment in moist seedbeds. Competitive survival ability in the soil. Must contain at least the required minimum amount of rhizobia (five hundred million bacteria / gram inoculant). According to results from Australia (Dr BW Strydom).). • Do not let the treated seed dry out too much. however. 3. in contrast to an overdose insecticide or herbicide. Tests on inoculants about which a complaint was recorded. Important details to remember • The correct organism is of great importance. • Do not expose treated seed surfaces to insecticides or herbicides for prolonged periods of time. Contains the correct rhizobial strain. • Keep it out of direct sunlight after inoculation since ultraviolet rays kills bacteria (exposure for a short period is not hazardous). Some rhizobia that. lucerne inoculant for lucerne seed and soybean inoculant for soybean seed. • Plant seed as soon as possible. • Plant as soon as possible after inoculation since dehydration also kills bacteria. Do not keep treated seed in the planter overnight. Use liquid inoculation or pelletting when seed treatments are used. i. APPLICATION OF MOLYBDENUM • Don’t apply molybdenum with the inoculant on the seed. • Use a higher dosage under poor conditions. The advantage is that should there be a complaint about no or poor nodulation. 2. • Do not use the inoculant after the expiry date. Therefore a strain that can outcompete other bacteria is crucial. The inoculant can be mixed with water and a sticker and applied as a slurry to the seed: • It must be thoroughly mixed. The PPRI later found that MoO3 is more toxic than sodium molybdate. The legume will nodulate according to its need with the available rhizobia. THERE ARE VARIOUS METHODS FOR INOCULATION: 1. It must have a shelf life of at least six months (and still maintain the minimum requirements in 2. but actinomycetes (that smell like wet or tilled soil) are harmful. The shelf life of Stimuplant inoculants on white carriers is 9 months and 6 months on the black carrier (local liquid inoculants 2 – 3 months). Guidelines for inoculation • Use a good quality commercial inoculant that is specific to the legume to be planted. expensive. 2. WHAT IS AN EFFECTIVE INOCULANT? 1. • Store inoculants in a cool. dry place (not in the fridge). except if it is mixed 50:50 with unslaked lime. 4. for example were used in the past to nodulate soybeans are not that effective. Ineffective nodules are smaller and white/grey in colour.e. • The liquid (containing the bacteria) can then be applied to the seed in the planting furrow. • Note the batch number and name of the manufacturing company so that any problems can be referred to them. sodium molybdate is toxic to rhizobia. WHAT IS AN EFFECTIVE STRAIN? An effective strain complies with all of the above criteria.WHICH ARE THE CORRECT BACTERIA? They are specific rhizobia bacteria that are selected for each specific legume based on the following characteristics: • Competitive competency: Most soils contain other ineffective rhizobia and other soil micro-organisms that may compete with the correct rhizobia before and during infection of the legume plants. Ensure that the correct type of inoculant for the specific crop is used. Stimuplant maintains a high level of quality control internally and batches are regularly tested and approved by the Plant Protection Research Institute (PPRI) of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). Must be free of contaminants that may inhibit the rhizobia bacteria. showed that the live counts of the remaining bags had a higher count of the right organism than when initially tested.
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