IMAGINE sowing faba beans with a granular inoculant one month before the opening rains.
A new clay-based granular inoculant, Alosca ‹ which has a six-month shelf life ‹ will allow legumes to be sown dry next season if trials this year continue to show excellent results.
Developed jointly by BayClassic Ltd and The Centre for Rhizobium Studies at Murdoch University, Alosca will do away with the need to make up a peat slurry when inoculating legumes with rhizobia (beneficial bacteria), prior to sowing.
John Howieson, director at the Centre for Rhizobium Studies, said the clay granules provided a buffer for the inoculant rhizobia, which are sensitive to temperature and moisture.
"The Alosca granules can be mixed with the seed, fertiliser or sown separately at 10kg/ha," he said.
"The granular inoculant might cost double that of a peat based product, but will allow much greater flexibility.
"Peat-based inoculants must be kept at 4C and the majority of rhizobia die when the pack is opened or shortly thereafter.
"Initial tests have shown that nodulation was better with the Alosca granules than a peat-based slurry, particularly when sown into harsh soil conditions."
The clay granules will also provide a medium to supply a range of other growth promoting bacteria, known as Plant Growth Promoting Rhizosphere (PGPR) organisms.
"The PGPRs have improved nodulation by 30-40pc on faba beans at WANTFA's Meckering trial site," Mr Howieson said.
"Commonly used in Russia and South East Asia, there is a degree of muck and mystery associated with PGPRs but we are now testing five bacteria which have shown good growth responses in the glasshouse.
"Now we have an excellent means of delivering these beneficial microbials to the plant with the clay based granules, we can better evaluate those giving good growth responses."