Grains Research and Development

Date: 16.03.2011

New quality check for legume inoculants to help growers

New quality check for legume inoculants to help growers

The introduction of a new Code of Practice for the manufacture of legume inoculants is expected to assist growers in avoiding costly crop losses due to poor inoculant quality.

The Code of Practice means inoculant products are to be manufactured under an agreed set of protocols and testing standards, and those that do will carry a quality registered trademark logo.

Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Manager of New Farm Products and Services, Paul Meibusch, says the consequences of using low quality inoculants can be significant for growers.

“Inoculants are used by farmers to produce nodules and fix nitrogen in legume crops, boosting productivity,” Mr Meibusch said. “Poor quality inoculants can lead to nodulation failure, resulting in reduced yields and income.”

Legumes provide an economically and environmentally sustainable source of nitrogen to growers, with the value of legume-derived nitrogen to Australian agriculture estimated to be approximately $3 billion per year based on the cost of replacing biologically-fixed nitrogen with N fertiliser.

Mr Meibusch said legume growers could now be confident that the legume inoculants they purchased were of the highest quality, following introduction of the Code of Practice.

The Code was prepared by the Australian Inoculants Research Group (AIRG) of Industry & Investment New South Wales’ Primary Industries division in collaboration with Sydney University and inoculant manufacturers Becker Underwood Pty Ltd, New Edge Microbials Pty Ltd and Novozymes Biologicals Australia Pty Ltd (a joint venture between the GRDC and Novozymes Biologicals).

Scientific contributions came from the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), the Centre for Rhizobium Studies (CRS) at Murdoch University in WA, DPI Victoria and the GRDC.

Legume inoculants that are manufactured and compliant under the Code will carry a quality registered trademark logo administered by AIRG. The quality trademark will help consumers identify those inoculants that have been independently tested at the AIRG ISO9001:2008 certified laboratory.

The AIRG has been conducting quality control of legume inoculants for more than 50 years. Each year it supplies over 35 quality tested rhizobial strains covering 90 legume species to the inoculant manufacturers. These strains have been carefully selected after many years of assessment through the ongoing programs of various research and development bodies, government institutions and universities.

Truth in labelling on inoculant products is an obligation under the Code and includes (but is not limited to) the following:
• the legume plant for which the product (inoculant) should be used
• a manufacturing batch number
• a shelf life or expiry date
• the method of application to seed or soil of the product (inoculant)
• the guaranteed minimum number of micro-organisms per unit of product at point-of-sale
• the conditions of storage

To monitor compliance to the Code of Practice, AIRG will test inoculants at point of manufacture and at retail sale.

Further information about the Code of Practice can be found on the I&I NSW website: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/research/centres/gosford/australian-inoculants-research-group.

Ends

Editor’s notes:

• Further comment is available from GRDC Manager of New Farm Products and Services, Paul Meibusch, on (02) 6166 4500

• www.grdc.com.au

• This media release and other media products are available via www.grdc.com.au/media