Evaluating the Effects of Seeding Rates and Inoculant Performance on Nodulation, Weed Suppression, and Relative Yields of DifferentLentil Varieties Grown in the Northern Great Plains

Lentils are important for diversifying wheat-based cropping systems and are also beneficial in enhancing soil health. These benefits have contributed to the exponential growth in pulse crop acreage in The Northern Great Plains (NGP). There are several challenges facing organic lentil production. Lack of approved herbicide for use in organic pulse crop production provides a challenge to weed management. Little is known about the optimum seeding and appropriate inoculation rates to improve; crop growth, nutrient acquisition, weed management, and yield potential for lentils in organic systems. It is hypothesized that growing lentils that tolerate high population densities could suppress weeds while maintaining and/or achieving higher yields and better economic returns to the grower. The goals of this project are to evaluate effects of seeding rates on lentil yields and weed competition. The effect of inoculation rates on nodulation and the soil community profile will also be determined. These goals will be achieved through a multi-site replicated trials on grower’s fields in three different lentil growing areas of Montana. Three lentil varieties would be selected based on seed sizes; large, medium, and small and will be seeded at four different rates. Inoculant will be applied at the recommended rate and twice the recommended rate. Expected outcomes are that organic lentil growers would adopt the recommendations of the research findings to improve on lentil yields, nutritional quality, and better returns on investments. Ultimately, incorporating lentils into organic cropping systems could enhance soil health and improve the economics of organic operations.