Method Of Inoculation

The bacteria can be transferred to a new field

by spreading soil taken from a field that has been growing the legume

successfully. The surface soil is removed to a depth of three inches,

and the next layer of soil is taken, as it contains the highest

percentage of bacteria. They develop in the nodules found on the

feeding roots of the plants. The soil is pulverized and applied at the

rate of 200 pounds per acre broadcast. If the inoculated soil is near

at hand and inexpensive, 500 pounds should be used in order that the

chance of quick inoculation may be increased. The soil should be spread

when the sun's rays are not hot, and covered at once with a harrow, as

drying injures vitality. The soil may be broadcasted by hand or applied

with a fertilizer distributer. The work may be done at any time while

preparing the seed-bed. The bacteria will quickly begin to develop on

the roots of the young plants, and nodules may be seen in some

instances before the plants are four weeks old.

Pure cultures may be used for inoculation. Some commercial concerns

made failures and brought the use of pure cultures into disrepute a few

years ago, but methods now are more nearly perfect, and it is possible

to buy the cultures of all the legumes and to use them with success.

Prices continue too high to make the pure cultures attractive to those

who can obtain inoculated soil with ease. If land has been producing

vigorous plants, and if it contains no weeds or disease new to the land

to be seeded, its soil offers the most desirable means of transferring

the bacteria.

The claim is made by some producers of pure cultures that their

bacteria are selected for virility, and should be used to displace

those found in the farmer's fields. The chances are that, if soil

conditions are good, the bacteria present in the soil are virile, and

if the conditions are bad, the pure cultures will not thrive. All

eastern land is supplied with red clover bacteria, just as some western

land possesses alfalfa bacteria, and partial clover failure has causes

wholly apart from the character of its bacteria.

We do not have definite knowledge concerning duration of inoculation

nor the manner in which it is maintained when legumes are not growing,

but we do know that when a legume has once made vigorous growth in a

field, the soil will remain inoculated for a long term of years.

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