Pulse School: Each plant species likes its own special inoculant


There is no mineral that provides nitrogen for plants. No rock, like there is for phosphate or sulphur. There is some nitrogen in the organic matter of soils but any additional nitrogen that a plant needs has to come out of the air. The good news is that about 78 percent of the air around us is actually nitrogen. The bad news is that it is a very energy intensive process to get the nitrogen out of the air and make it available to plants.

Fortunately, legumes are able to access this atmospheric nitrogen, which makes growing them a whole lot simpler. That process requires help, too, in the form of bacteria inoculants.

In this episode of Pulse School, RealAgriculture’s Dale Leftwich chats with Russell Trischuk, inoculant lead with BASF, about the many different products made at the plant. BASF has a facility at Saskatoon, Sask., that makes a variety of inoculants which they then ship around the world.

Trischuk starts off with a vey basic explanation of how inoculants work in legumes – specifically in pulses and soybeans. “In this classification of plants the growers are fortunate that instead of having to buy synthetic nitrogen fertilizer they’re able to inoculate the seedlings, or the seed with bacteria that form a symbiotic relationship with the legume plants enabling them to convert atmospheric nitrogen into the form of nitrogen that plants require for growth.”

Listen to the interview below as Russell Trischuk, inoculants lead with BASF, discuses the importance of using the correct inoculant, why some farmers use more inoculant, and plant biologicals. 

Trischuk says that the facility produces different products because, “We have taken the direction to actually make inoculants that are specific to a species of crop.”

Although it would be simpler and easier to produce just one product for all of the different pulses, Trischuk says inoculants that are created for individual species actually perform better. “The reason we’ve chosen to do that is that when we pick strains that are more specific to a crop they actually do a better job of producing more nitrogen. So, as opposed to having one brand of inoculant you can use across all crops, like pea, lentil, fababean and chickpea, like our competitors do, we have individual products for each of those individual crops because we know technically they’re going to work the best and we’ve got the data to support that.”

Please check out other Pulse Schools by following this link.

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