Source: Multiple Extension Publications

The following are a few key best-management practices that will help ensure your grower/customers receive maximum return from the use of a seed inoculant treatment that contains a live rhizobia component.

Fresh product. Rhizobia are living creatures that require ample supplies of oxygen for survival. Also, like most other animals, they age and die over time. To ensure maximum rhizobial viability, use only new, fresh inoculant manufactured for the current growing season.

Seed treatment compatibility. Some carriers (or inert ingredients) as well as active ingredients of seed-applied fungicides or insecticides may be toxic to rhizobia bacteria. Check product labels carefully to ensure compatibility with rhizobia.

Component variability. Be sure you know the viability ratings for each part of new multi-component seed inoculant products, especially the live rhizobia on-seed viability. Also, be sure that live rhizobia are present at sufficient levels to be effective.

Storage area temperatures. Seed treatments containing live rhizobia should be stored between 40 degrees to 77 degrees F. Storage nearer 40 degrees F is preferred for longest life. Make sure storage areas are well ventilated and temperatures stay within recommended levels.

Do not use chlorinated water. Chlorinated water kills rhizobia bacteria. Many rural water systems are designed to deliver chlorinated water. If you have to use chlorinated water, de-chlorinate it before mixing with an inoculant.

Avoid exposure to direct sunlight. The sun's ultraviolet rays are harmful to rhizobia bacteria, even if exposed for a short period of time. Avoid direct sunlight exposure.

Calibration. Regularly calibrate and check application equipment to ensure proper application rate. This is especially critical with today's ultra-low application rate products.