Seed inoculation maximizes per acre return on new soybean ground

Both inoculation and sidedressed nitrogen increased the yield of soybeans planted to “virgin” ground, but inoculation alone may prove most cost effective.

Michigan State University Extension educators in Michigan’s greater Thumb area had the opportunity to plant soybeans on ground that had never been planted to soybeans before. The educators took this chance to establish a trial measuring the effects of inoculant and nitrogen treatments on soybeans planted to “virgin” ground.

Pioneer 92Y51 soybeans were planted in 30-inch rows on an Avoca Loamy Sand. The plot was located in Huron County’s Meade Township, near Filion, Mich. Treatments included sidedressed nitrogen as 28 percent UAN at 80 pounds per acre; HiStick inoculant, a combination of sidedressed 28 percent UAN at 80 pounds plus the inoculant; and an untreated check (UTC). The inoculant was applied at planting and the sidedressed nitrogen was applied three weeks later. See Table 1 for study results.

Table 1. Performance of HiStick Inoculant and sidedressed nitrogen on ground not previously planted to soybeans (Filion, Mich., 2012)


Yield (Bu./A)

Per acre return

Sidedressed N



Sidedressed N + HiStick Inoculant



HiStick Inoculant



Untreated Check



C.V. (%)


LSD @ 0.05


Per Bushel Soybean Price


Per Acre Inoculant Cost


Per Acre Nitrogen Cost (N@$0.60/lb)


Bolded yields are not significantly different from the highest yielding treatment.

The site received very little rain throughout the growing season on a drought-prone soil. Yields reflect the lack of rain. All three nitrogen and inoculant treatment yields were significantly higher than the UTC. The most cost effective treatment was HiStick inoculant alone.

The educators would like to thank plot cooperator Shupe Dairy Inc. and the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee for providing funding toward this study.

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