High soybean prices are driving a new interest in rhizobial inoculants. “With soybean prices so high, everyone is looking for ways to increase yields,” says Jim Beuerlein, Seed Enhancement Biologicals, Becker Underwood, and agronomy professor emeritus, Ohio State University. “Many producers have turned to inoculation for that purpose.”

Plus, inoculants need only a modest yield increase to offset the cost. “A good inoculant will usually provide at least a 1- to 2-bu./acre return on yield,” reports Tim Maloney, Agri-Tech Consulting, Whitewater, WI. “For the cost of a typical inoculant, you’ll usually generate a $12 to $16/acre return based on $8/bu. soybeans. Most good-quality inoculants cost $5 to $7/acre.”

Another market driver is the high cost of seed and inputs. Growers use these products to help protect their investment in soybeans and maximize yields, adds Ryan Locke, EMD Crop BioScience.

The use of rhizobial inoculants has spread geographically as well. Dorn Severtson, Novozymes BioAg, says more growers in the south and east are trying inoculants.