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Legume inoculants are biologically prepared materials in compounded soil mixture containing a pure culture of nitrogen-fixing bacteria or rhizobia which symbiotically fix atmospheric nitrogen into a form that leguminous plant can assimilate.
The use of legume inoculants ensures the introduction of effective N-fixing bacteria which reduces or even eliminates the need for the application of N fertilizer. Inoculation also increases the grain yield and quality of crops. In one study conducted by BSWM in 1991-1992, a 234% increase in peanut yield was obtained due to inoculation.
Legume inoculation is a way of assuring that the rhizobium strains is present in the soil, appropriate for the seed to be planted at the proper time and number sufficient to assure a quick and effective infection and an efficient subsequent N-fixation.
Inoculation is usually accomplished by treating the seed or the soil with a mix of selected strain or strains of bacteria and carrier called inoculum.