Six years of Ohio State field data show that new generations of soybean inoculants can improve yields, says Jim Beuerlein, an agronomist at the university.
Data from 35 field trials and thousands of plots show the yield advantage of today's inoculants averages 2 bu/acre in fields in corn-soybean rotations.
"Our field trials evaluate new, improved products that have resulted in larger yield increases than the first products tested years ago," he says.
Inoculants increased yields even in soils ideal for bacteria survival. In less-than-ideal soils, inoculants gave a 5-12% yield boost over non-inoculated beans.
Beuerlein figures good management can push average yield increases from inoculants to 4 bu/acre. At $5.50/bu bean prices, that would boost income by $22/acre, and net income by $16.50/acre, he says.