Growing Possibilities, A blog by XiteBio | Inoculant Compatibility: Why Do I Need to Know
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Inoculant Compatibility: Why Do I Need to Know

When using an inoculant or biological, it is always important to consider its compatibility with any inputs that are being applied at the same time. Inoculants and biologicals contain living bacteria or other microbes that need the right conditions to survive and thrive. Combining them with other seed treatments or fertilizers can potentially cause the bacteria to become stressed and not perform well or even kill them off entirely. Confirming compatibility between all products being used is critical to ensuring good performance.  There are two key aspects that are considered when assessing compatibility: bacterial viability/survivability and physical compatibility.

Bacterial viability refers to how well bacteria survive when in direct contact with other inputs. This could be when applied on-seed with other chemical seed treatments or when tank-mixed with liquid fertilizers or pesticides. Many products are chemical-based and can be harsh toward bacteria, so ensuring that they are surviving is essential to success. It is also necessary to know how long the survival period is and also whether an adequate number of bacteria are surviving. This is known as the planting window, and could be represented as days on seed (for seed treatments) or hours in a tank mix. The number of viable bacteria might be high at the start of this window, but over time they will begin to die off. In order to determine the planting window, samples are repeatedly taken and tested over time and the number of live bacteria is measured and recorded. Once the number drops below the acceptable threshold, that time frame is determined to be the end of the planting window.

Physical compatibility refers to how well an inoculant or biological will physically mix when combined with other inputs. When bacteria are placed in a stressful environment, they can panic and release a mucous-like compound called exopolysaccharides (EPS). This is a natural reaction bacteria have to help them stay alive. If an inoculant or biological is physically compatible with a tank mixture of liquid fertilizers or pesticides, it will easily blend throughout the solution and flow smoothly through equipment. However, if a product is not compatible and causes stress to bacteria, EPS will be released into the tank and create a stringy mucous that will not flow smoothly and plug up equipment such as spray nozzles. Physical compatibility is also a consideration between on-seed inoculants and other seed treatments, to ensure that seed is able to flow smoothly and not become too wet or sticky.

Knowing compatibility is vital to successful application, and the IRD team at XiteBio is continually testing and updating product compatibility charts. Once a product has been added to the chart, growers can feel confident in using it safely and effectively. For the latest information on compatibility with XiteBio inoculants and biologicals, please consult the following links for XiteBio SoyRhizo inoculant, XiteBio PulseRhizo inoculant, and XiteBio Yield+ biologicals.

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