Cover Crop Inoculant
LINK™ Cover Crop Inoculant is a great option to inoculate Cover Crop Solutions® mixes that include legumes. With LINK, there’s finally an easy-to-use, economical solution to inoculate cover crops and improve soil health and productivity.
Importance of Inoculating Legumes
For anyone that has raised legume crops like soybeans, it’s common knowledge that rhizobia bacteria inoculants are a crucial component to allowing a legume to properly fix large amounts of nitrogen. But what about a cover crop? Are inoculants really required? A key reason to consider a legume cover crop is to increase nitrogen in the soil, which in turn benefits the following corn or grass crop. The problem is without the correct rhizobia present, that cover crop legume will not maximize nitrogen production, and maximum benefit for our corn the following year will not be achieved.
So cover crop legumes need rhizobia, and if we do not have the proper background population in the soil, we will need to inoculate. Here is where there could be a challenge: for most of the common legumes planted as cover crops, including winter peas, crimson clover, winter hairy vetch, and sunn hemp, there is not a viable option to “pre-inoculate” these seeds as we so often see in alfalfa or red clover. The rhizobium that nodulate the cover crop legumes are quite fragile and are very susceptible to desiccation. In most cases, they do not survive on the seed beyond 24 hours. In contrast, the rhizobium that nodulates alfalfa can survive on the seed for up to two years. Beware of cover crop seed that is “pre-inoculated”. In most cases, there will not be any surviving rhizobia.
Thus, for maximum nitrogen production from our cover crop, it is recommended that we add a fresh inoculant to the seed at the time of planting. Keep in mind, each legume requires a certain strain to nodulate properly. For example, the strain that nodulates red clover will not nodulate crimson clover. Peas and vetches require their own specific strains. Likewise, any leftover soybean or alfalfa inoculant will not work with cover crops. The challenge has been, “how do I inoculate the legumes in my cover crop?” Inoculating legumes is crucial for proper growth and maximum nitrogen fixation, but it has been difficult to find the right product.
La Crosse Seed has launched a solution to that challenge: LINK™ Inoculant. This unique, peat based product will inoculate all of the common cover crop legumes in one convenient package. LINK™ Inoculant is offered in a package that treats 500 pounds of seed, matching up well with both 50# bags as well as 2000# bulk bags. In most commonly used cover crop mixes, legumes generally make up only a portion of the mix. Other seeds, like small grains and radish, are often included too. LINK™ Inoculant was designed to be applied on the entire mix, offering ease of use and convenience. The advantage of applying inoculant on the entire mix is that the non-legume seed components then “carry” the inoculant into the soil, where the legume seeds will be nearby. This benefit provides more complete nodulation of the legume and enhanced nitrogen fixation than if the inoculant was applied only to the legume seed.
LINK™ Cover Crop Inoculant is available as a stand-alone item for custom mixes and other legume products. LINK™ Inoculant will also be a great option to inoculate forage mixes that include legumes. La Crosse Seed is proud to offer this unique, all-purpose product that will help take the guesswork and challenge out of inoculating cover crops. By offering a convenient, high quality product we make it easy to maximize the benefit of your cover crop legumes.
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