12 Jun Helping Crops Reach the Unreachable
Crop inputs are generally thought of as a way to enhance the soil by adding something that is currently lacking. These can include fertilizers that add needed nutrients, or various pesticides to provide extra protection against a disease or pest. However, there are examples of where what is needed already exists, but just not available to the plant. One of the features of ag biological products is that some have the ability to access these otherwise unreachable benefits and make them available to the crop.
Perhaps the most common example of this in agriculture is the use of seed inoculants that contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Nitrogen (N) is one of the primary nutrients needed for plant growth. Our air is made up of 78% N, yet on their own plants have no way to obtain it. So what some plants (most commonly legumes) have done is develop a relationship with specific soil bacteria called rhizobia. These bacteria have the ability to take N directly from the air and supply it to the plant, giving it access to an abundant source of the nutrient.
Phosphorus (P) is another important nutrient that can be abundant in soils, but is often unusable by plants. The addition of fertilizers, as well as other natural processes, can build up soil P levels over time. However, if it is not used quickly, P can easily bind itself to soil particles and become unavailable for the crop. Biologicals that use phosphorus solubilizing bacteria are able to free up P from the soil. This makes it available for plant use and can create a potentially abundant source for a previously inaccessible nutrient.
These are just two of the more common examples of how ag biologicals can provide benefits to crops by providing access that they could never achieve on their own. As research on the topic continues to grow, more are sure to be achieved.
Image source: XiteBio Technologies Inc.