Soil amendments, helpful bacteria may improve soybean plant health

Bruce Schultz, Gould, Frances I., Blanchard, Tobie M.  |  11/9/2017 5:01:12 PM

Experimenting with foliar and soil applications of different materials, Jong Ham, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, is studying different ways of improving soybean health to increase yields.

Soil amendments could boost a soybean plant’s overall health, and a healthier plant could have the ability to withstand disease better, he explained.

Ham is using DNA sequencing technology to analyze microorganisms in the soil to find which ones have beneficial effects for soybeans. Those bacteria are sprayed onto the plant’s leaves.

“We are in search of new bacteria that will inhibit soybean pathogens from infecting the plants,” he said.

The work has revealed more than 100,000 species of microorganisms in the soil, and 1,900 have been tested so far, he said. Five of those show potential antibacterial qualities, and 11 have possible antifungal characteristics.

Testing last year also showed that biochar suppressed some nematodes, and poultry litter showed some potential for nematode control. Yield was highest in plots treated with biochar and poultry litter, Ham said.

Plants treated with Quadris fungicide had the lowest number of leaves with Cercospora and frogeye leaf spot. A one percent solution of acetic acid also showed promising results against Cercospora, he said.

Ham also is studying the use of chitosan, a byproduct of shellfish, in foliar applications to find if it could protect plants against disease. So far, the degree of protection has been limited, he said, but the research will continue. Bruce Schultz

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