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Acid-based fertilisers and other chemicals have been used widely in agriculture since the mid-1800’s.

Such products have provided primary producers with a water-soluble source of nutrients that are needed to grow a crop or pasture.

Even though microbes that typically live in soils are killed by such products, growers have chosen to continue using water soluble fertilisers because they provide faster availability of nutrients. Until fairly recently, we did not understand the role that soil microbes play in plant health and productivity. 

Why does soil biology matter?

Soil microbes and their microbial activity have a tremendous influence on plant health and productivity. One benefit for the plant is access to a balanced nutritional food supply.

The most intense interactions between microbes and plants take place at the rhizosphere, which is the interface between plant roots and the soil.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi form an intricate relationship with the roots of most flowering plants and are associated with the provision of phosphorus to the plant.

Bacteria of the Azospirillum genus promote increased root mass and more efficient nitrogen uptake from the soil.

We have known about the role that rhizobia and other bacteria play in nitrogen fixation and plant growth for decades.

What is less understood is the influence that other microbes have on soil and plant health, growth and sustainability. These microbes are now recognised as improving retention and access to moisture, enhancing stress tolerance, providing disease resistance, aid in balanced nutrient availability and uptake, and promoting biodiversity in the soil.

Best of both worlds?

How can we maintain fast access to nutrients applied through fertilisers while not killing off the soil microbes that make for a stronger and healthier plant?

This is exactly what we have designed a BioAg program to achieve.

Our products contain bacterial and fungal cultures. As soils become more biologically active growers see more efficient utilisation of the applied nutrients. This can lead to a reduction in the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous fertiliser required.

An increase in beneficial microbes creates healthy and productive soils that enhance plant health and growth along with sustainability.

Talk to a BioAg Area Manager about how our programs combined with conventional nutrients improve the ability of pasture and crops to access nutrients and moisture. Ask your Area Manager to explain how our programs can reduce the impact of pests, disease, heat and frost stresses.

See our trials and demonstrations page for more information about the effectiveness of BioAg programs and products.

Explore our case studies to read how biological inputs have helped growers improve their yields.

Beneficial microorganisms for sustainable agriculture

From a CSIRO paper by Dr. Vadakattu Gupta

It is essential to enhance the activities of microbes that benefit plant nutrition, control diseases and assist plants to cope with a variety of abiotic stresses to sustain and improve global food production in future climate scenarios while maintaining environmental health. A diverse range of beneficial microorganisms have been found but their reliable use in field environments is yet to be fully realised. New knowledge on soil microbial diversity can lead to the discovery of new generation inoculants as well as improve survival and performance of beneficial microbes in situ following their introduction into foreign environments.

Dr. Vadakattu Gupta is a principal research scientist in CSIRO  Ecosystem Sciences at Waite campus in Adelaide. His research interests are in the areas of functional microbial ecology and plant-microbe-soil interactions with current focus on unravelling the genetic and functional diversity of disease suppressive microbial communities and rhizosphere dynamics of microbiota and biological functions.

Reference

Beneficial microorganisms for sustainable agriculture by Dr V Gupta, viewed 27/08/2014.