Inoculant Guide: Return on Investment

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Profitability involves putting all the pieces together in a timely manner to bring about a quality product that yields above what is needed to cover costs. From planting through harvest, there is a set schedule of management steps that need to be taken to bring about a return on investment in the crop. Research has shown time and again that inoculants are a sound investment that bring about a clear return in dollar value.

Multi-year trials conducted in various states have shown that inoculants increase peanut yield versus both untreated acres and nitrogen fertilizer. Nothing beats the competitive advantage and return on investment as the use of inoculants.

In one such study at the Sunbelt Ag Expo, Moultrie, Ga., it was found that Vault inoculants increased peanut yields by as much as 1,203 pounds per acre versus untreated acres and by 419 pounds per acre versus a major competitor. Vault Liquid with Integral biofungicide has enhanced root vigor, increased nutrient uptake and provides disease suppression for the peanut crop.

Proven Profitability

Scott Tubbs, University of Georgia cropping systems agronomist, researched the profitability of inoculant products and found that liquid inoculant products increased profitability by $164 per acre.

In a test on new ground with liquid inoculants applied in-furrow at planting, Tubbs says, “The inoculated products out-yielded the uninoculated products, and whereas the difference may not have been a statistical difference as far as data analysis, it would have been an economical difference to the producer; enough of a difference to have paid for the use of the product.

“In most years, it takes merely a 50- to 80-pound-per acre increase in yield to cover the cost of the inoculant application at planting,” he says.

David Jordan, North Carolina State University Extension peanut specialist, says growers should inoculate their peanut seed or fields to ensure that adequate levels of rhizobia are present in each field.

“The research data demonstrates that while peanut response to rotation is often predictable, response to inoculant and rotation combinations is less predictable. Therefore, peanuts should be inoculated in all years regardless of previous rotation history to minimize risk and maintain yield,” Jordan says.

Peanut-Grower-November-2015_Page_16_Image_0001Why Mess With Perfection?

It may seem obvious as to why the use of inoculants is the economical choice for supplying nitrogen to the plant. For one, nitrogen fertilizer is expensive and the price volatile. However, research has also shown that the addition of fertilizer at planting has a detrimental affect on the peanut’s natural ability to fix nitrogen.

Justin Clark, technical market specialist, BASF, explains, “The plant takes up the nitrogen that’s been added to the soil, and it doesn’t utilize the symbiotic relationship with the rhizobia bacteria in the soil. In turn, that can affect nodulation and long-term nitrogen fixation. As the growing season progresses, the nitrogen fertilizer dissipates and you end up with a rhizobia deficiency and lower yields.”

Peanut-Grower-November-2015_Page_17_Image_0001Added Value In This Product

Once the seed germinates and begins to grow, an inoculant that provides added protection to the seedling can bring producers additional peace of mind that their crop is being guarded against disease.

“That’s what Vault Liquid with Integral biofungicide can do for producers,” Clark says. “Our inoculant products combine multiple biologicals into one package for suppression of seedling diseases such as Rhizoctonia and Fusarium. The fungicide component provides two to three weeks longer protection above the seed treatment and is another mode of action against the more common seedling diseases.

“With extended protection against these diseases, nodulation is enhanced and the result is more vigorous roots and greater nutrient uptake.”

When you combine the yield increase over no inoculant and the savings in fertilizer application, plus the extended protection of the seedling, there is no doubt that inoculants are worth the input cost.

“We have a fresh, one-year product with proven yield results,” Clark says. “The combination of higher yields and reduced fertilizer expenses makes an inoculant a good investment for your peanut crop.”

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