I recently chatted with Chris Meier with EMD Crop BioScience about their Canadian Release of their Product Optimize.  I had heard for the past two years about this product in the US but did not know much about it. 

EMD says:

“Our patented LCO Promoter Technology® found in Optimize® enhances natural growth processes immediately and independent of soil conditions. This early start promotes stronger, healthier plants throughout the growing season, resulting in higher yields and maintained or increased protein content at harvest.”

I find trying to get to the bottom of the science behind claims like the one made by EMD hard to get.   I was pleasantly surprised with Myer’s breakdown of how this Registered Fertilizer Product works.

Here is my interpretation.

The LCO is a signal compound that Rhizobiain nature produce.  As part of their symbiotic relationship Soybeans send isoflavonoid signals out of the root to say to the Rhizobia that it needs nitrogen.  Now only certain stains of Rhizobia pick up on this signal from the Soys.  That is why only certain Rhizobia will infect a soybean plant.  Then the Rhizobia sends a signal (LCO) back to the soybean to say “yes we are here and we are ready to infect”.  The soybean receives this communication and then starts to curl root hair in preparation of infection.  This curled root hair becomes the location of a Nitrogen Fixing Nodule.  The LCO signal in nature usually takes 4-6 weeks to stimulate the first nodules because the soil temperature needs to be 10 degrees C.   The LCO in Optimize® works independently of moisture and temperature and has shown field observations to speed this process up by three weeks.

I’m optimistic about this product because i have observed that anything we can do to get soybeans ready to make and fill pods earlier in the season seems to make yield.   We are going to try some side by sides with Chris Meier this spring to see if this sexy sounding technology will put some bushels in the bin.  We will keep you posted.

Soybean Root
(Sourced from Wikipedia)

“Cross section though a soybean (Glycine max ‘Essex’) root nodule.Bradyrhizobium japonicuminfects the roots and establishes a nitrogen fixing symbiosis. This high magnification image shows part of a cell with single bacteroids within their symbiosomes” (wikipedia)