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Granular Vs Liquid Inoculants

Posted: Dec 14, 2021

Buying an inoculant isn’t about bags or bladders, it’s about ensuring your soybean and pulse crop has the nodulation needed to maximize its potential. Choosing the right inoculant for your farm means balancing a number of factors including performance, ease of use, and cost to determine the right product for your operation. Both granular and liquid inoculant formulations are widely used in Western Canada but which is the right fit for you? 

Granular Inoculants

Granular inoculants are widely used in Western Canada thanks to their robust ability to protect rhizobia and ensure good inoculant survival.  They also allow for maximum flexibility with seed applied products like seed treatments as they are applied to the soil separately.  The challenge with granular inoculants that they are bulky and they must be handled separately during seeding which requires additional logistics.  They are also typically more expensive per acre than other inoculant types. 

Liquid Inoculants

Liquid inoculants are applied to the seed, eliminating the extra handling requirements of granular inoculants in the field, and they are less expensive per acre than granular inoculants.  They do require good on-seed application but can be applied together with a chemical seed treatment application.  Advances in liquid inoculant technology has significantly improved the on-seed life of some liquid inoculant but growers using a liquid inoculant must be aware of its on-seed life and product compatibility with chemical seed treatments. 

Granular Inoculant Liquid Inoculant
Advantages Disadvantages Advantages Disadvantages
Robust rhizobia survival Bulky Less product handling Must be seed applied
No seed treatment compatibility concerns Requires separate tank on air cart No separation required on air cart Limited on-seed life
  High cost Lower cost Need to be aware of seed treatment compatibility


The most significant factor in developing an inoculation strategy is assessing the risk of nodulation failure in a particular crop and rotation. In fields with little or no history of soybeans or pulse crops or which have experienced flooding or significant drought, double inoculation using both a liquid on seed and a granular in-furrow may be the best choice as the cost of a nodulation failure outweighs the additional cost of using a double inoculation strategy. You can read more about the benefits of inoculation in our previous BY PLUS note here.

For more information on the granular and liquid inoculants offered by BrettYoung, contact your local Regional Account Manager.

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