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February 2, 2022
Benjamin Klu Adevu

Why Inoculate Seeds?

Why Inoculate Seeds?

Isn't one of the primary goals of every growing season to produce healthy, high-yielding plants? Growers understand that to attain this goal, they must begin with the right seed, which requires inoculation. Scientists have discovered a means to grow more food while still ensuring the yield to meet the ever-increasing population. Technological advancement in science has improved seed properties, making more pests resistant and capable of absorbing nutrients from the soil. Microbial biostimulants like Rhizobium and Trichoderma contribute to the mobilization of sparingly-soluble mineral nutrients, stimulate mineralization and nutrient cycling in the rhizosphere, which is the all-important soil area around the plant’s roots, promote root growth, and induce metabolic priming effects against biotic and abiotic stress factors in maize, rice, soybeans, cowpea and other target crops. This means they are more tolerant of stresses and makes for a stronger plant.

What Is Seed Inoculation?

Inoculation is an agricultural strategy that helps growers get their crops off to a good start each year by increasing plant vigour and return-per-acre potential.

Seed Inoculation in Soy and Cowpea

Seed inoculation in legumes is the procedure of coating the seed surface with nitrogen-fixing bacteria (Rhizobium or Bradyrhizobium) before planting. The bacteria penetrate the root, causing root nodules to develop, which fix nitrogen from the air and make it available to the plant.

This agronomic practice is typical of legumes which are mostly in a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobium bacteria, such as soybean, cowpea and other legumes. Seed inoculation benefits both the seed and the Rhizobium bacteria. It preserves the nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which is important because most seeds possess natural toxins against soil decay which kill Rhizobia as well.

Rizoliq inoculated soybean crop shows increased yields
Rizoliq inoculated soybean

Rhizobium bacteria found naturally in soil are insufficiently numerous and effective to accelerate biological nitrogen-fixing and boosting yields. It is important to inoculate a crop with a suitable and reliable Rhizobia strain to get the full benefit of biological nitrogen fixation. Although the bacteria may persist in the soil for 2 to 5 years, Inoculating beginning of every season is the finest farm practice. This is prudent because the bacteria population in the soil may not be sufficient for adequate nodulation for that cropping season. The following are some of the advantages of using Rizoliq (Bradyrizobium japonica):

  • The coating on the seed acts as a wick for water in times of drought and improves its stress tolerance
  • Rizoliq promotes better germination and root development
  • Birds and rodents are less inclined to eat coated seed, and it is more resistant to pests, and diseases.
  • Mostly, when the coated seed is mixed with granular fertilizer, the coating can protect Rhizobia from the negative effects of fertilizer.
  • Rizoliq inoculants have no negative side effects on seeds because it is impossible to over-inoculate, therefore farmers don’t need to have additional knowledge to participate in this farm practice.
  • If a legume is properly inoculated with Rizoliq, it can return adequate nitrogen to the soil without the use of fertilizer, saving growers a significant amount of money. Legumes add 110 kg of nitrogen per hectare per year on average. Crop and pasture legumes are estimated to provide a $4 billion annual benefit from nitrogen fixation.

Inoculation in Hybrid Maize

Inoculation of hybrid maize contribute to the mobilization of sparingly-soluble mineral nutrients, stimulate mineralization and nutrient cycling in the rhizosphere, promote root growth, and induce metabolic priming effects against biotic and abiotic stress factors in the maize.  Inoculation of hybrid maize with nitrogen-fixing bacterium enhanced plants roots and increased crop yields as reported by Xiubin et al., (2019). They also reported that hybrid maize inoculated with nitrogen-fixing-bacterium improved plant root/shoot development, plant nitrogen content and impact of indigenous rhizosphere microbial population (soil health). Maize has a high photosynthetic rate, but it is easily influenced by environmental stress due to low soil N levels, which is an essential ingredient for plant cells and essential for increasing crop yields. Furthermore, most tropical soils have limited N availability, necessitating N fertilization as a necessary activity. Hence, higher cost of production buying and applying more nitrogen fertilizers which lead to a negative impact on the environment as well as contributing to soil acidity and negative pH. Inoculation provides alternative strategies. For instance, supplementing partially the plant needs by natural processes, such as biological N fixation and organic phosphate solubilization.

Inoculated sweet corn plants showing increased yields
Inoculated sweet corn plants

Inoculation in Rice

Rice forms a significant portion of food consumed in most households worldwide. Rice production has been hampered by soil factors and diseases. However, inoculation of seeds before planting mitigates these challenges. Inoculated rice seeds consequently improve germination, shoot/root growth, and chlorophyll content of rice compared with uninoculated seeds. Under drought or water deficit conditions, rice seed inoculation resulted in enhanced plant growth and yield compared to untreated plants. It also reduced waterlogging stress in rice which affects various plant physiological activities (Barnawal et al., (2013). Rice seed inoculation also promotes rice performance under salinity stress by lowering the ethylene production and improving growth, antioxidant potential, photosynthesis and uptake of minerals such as N, P, K and Ca. The utilization of inoculants is becoming more popular due to increasing reports of expressive gains in maize and rice grain yields. However, incompatibility with pesticides used in seed treatments represents the main limitation for successful inoculation.

Comparison showing the impact of inoculation on rice seedlings vs. no inoculation
Comparison between inoculated and uninoculated rice seedling

Trichoderma Spps and Why Use ECO-T

Trichoderma species are biological control organisms against a wide range of soil-borne pathogens and also have been known to provide plant growth promotion. Trichoderma spps have been known to show antagonism to various root pathogens such as Pythium spp., Rhizoctonia spp. and Fusarium spp. Some Trichoderma strains establish robust and long-lasting colonizations of root surfaces penetrating the epidermis. This colonization by Trichoderma frequently enhances root growth development, crop productivity and resistance to abiotic stresses through enhancement of mineral absorption.

Positive benefits of Trichoderma include increased yields, enhanced genetic expression, stress mitigation, and even improved harvest quality. It has been estimated that over 50% of yield losses are the result of plant stress due to unfavourable weather conditions. Certainly, we cannot control the weather but when utilizing specific strains of Trichoderma fungi, we influence how the plant responds to harsh weather conditions.

Cherrie tomatoes sprayed with Eco-T inoculant
Cherry tomatoes sprayed with Eco-T

Seed treatment with Trichoderma Species is used for the control of damping-off of Cowpea caused by Macrophomia phaseolina. Trichoderma has also been shown to enhance growth and stimulate flowering in a range of horticultural crops.

Trichoderma used in maize creates a larger root system and enhances plant growth, inducing resistance to plant stress such as diseases, drought and more. Trichoderma use in maize ups fertilizer and water use efficiency resulting in increased yields beyond genetics which provides a strong Return over investment (ROI).

Regardless of the purpose for which ECO-T (Trichoderma asperellum) are applied to crops, they optimise their functionality in the target environment. They are variously used as sprays, drenches and root dips. The ECO-T is one of the effective biocontrol agents for the control of a wide range of fungal diseases that impact crop production in a wide range of vegetables, cereals, orchards and floricultural crops. Phytophthora, Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, and Pythium are among the root pathogens controlled by ECO-T.

Beef tomato drenched with Eco-T inoculant
Beef tomato drenched with Eco-T

ECO-T also stimulates the development of strong root systems when used as drench and root dips. The fungus works in tandem with roots to improve nutrient intake and root development. Below are the reasons why ECO-T is the preferred bio-control agent globally:

  1. In contrast, ECO-T provides efficient preventative treatment against a far broader variety of fungal soil pathogens. This eliminates the wrong diagnosis associated with soil diseases and the use of ineffective chemical fungicides.
  2. Trichoderma inoculation of plants is widely recognized to result in disease suppression, plant growth promotion, and increased root mass. Furthermore, Trichoderma asperellum produces Indole 3- Acetic Acid (IAA), which is the most common type of auxin. IAA is involved in cell division and elongation and is a major contributor to increased root mass following Trichoderma inoculation.
  3. Controls disease through multiple modes of action and effective nutrient mobilization

  There is a low likelihood of resistance building up. Hyperparasitism, competitive exclusion, antibiosis, and Induced Systemic Resistance are among them (ISR). Eco-T guarantees that nutrient uptake through plant roots is as efficient as possible. Healthy roots and root hairs allow the plant to absorb nutrients over a broader surface area. As a result, it aids in ensuring the best possible return on fertilizer investment.

Melons drenched with Eco-T inoculant
Melons drenched with Eco-T

4. Seed germination is improved, resulting in faster seedling development. Eco-T is safe, non-toxic and there are no residues or waiting periods after application     (absolutely no PHI issues).

Get in touch today to understand more about seed inoculation and how to start inoculating your seeds.

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