Plants and turf require nutrients to prosper and be productive. Given the availability of soil and naturally occurring nutrients, minerals and organic matter, plants are already equipped to feed themselves, but require soil microbes to do so. Over millions of years, plants have developed a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria and fungi. In the root zone of the plant (rhizosphere), a healthy soil will result in millions of soil microbes that congregate on the surface of the roots. The roots of the plant gives off various compounds to feed the microbes (exudates) while in turn, the microbes introduce nutrients and minerals into the roots. Besides feeding the plant, this relationship also provides many other benefits such as stimulation of growth hormones in plants, reduced disease and pest pressure, improvement of the structure and fertility of the soil, increased ability of the soil to hold water and many other benefits.
Alternatively, plants can also grow and prosper by the addition of chemical fertilizers. But this method compromises the natural soil microbe relationship with the plant. Fertilizers significantly diminish the soil microbe populations in soil which results in reduced health of the plant, poorer crop quality, reduced barriers for negative soil pathogens and diseases, and reduced organic matter and water holding capacity of the soil.
Biofertilization is the introduction of beneficial soil microbes to the soil to bolster existing weak microbe populations to partially or completely restore the method of plant nourishment that plants are originally designed for.
Over the last decade, great strides have been made to improve the performance, reliability and shelf life of biofertilization products.
The biofertilization products that Bioril offers perform the following functions:
- Nitrogen fixation—nitrogen fixation is converting various forms of nitrogen either in the soil or atmosphere into a form that the plants can uptake.
- Phosphate Solubilization—phosphate, a key plant nutrient, is notoriously difficult to convert into a form that plants can uptake due to their various strong chemical bonds. Key microbes have the ability with their enzymes and acids to break down these compounds and make phosphates available to the plant.
- Improved plant uptake of macro and micro nutrients and minerals.
- Stabilization of pH—excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers can drive pH downward necessitating the need for other amendments to correct pH. Overtime, stabilization of pH will result in less lime costs.
- Nutrient recycling—there are many organic constituents in the soil that require breakdown in the soil to either convert them into a food source for the plant or build up the soil structure and fertility.
- Stimulation of natural growth hormones in the plant.
- Improvement of organic content in soils—beneficial bacteria and fungi give off slimes that help build up the soil organic matter. Increased soil organic matter greatly improves soil fertility and the ability to hold and conserve water.
The biofertilization products that Bioril offers provide the following benefits:
- Reduced need for nitrogen fertilizers—this reduction can be from 25% to 100% reduction depending on the soil fertility and organic matter content in the soil. This results in cost savings for the end user. Reduced nitrogen consumption translates into less leachate into our groundwater and runoff into our surface waters.
- Improved drought and stress resistance—this can also translate into reducing irrigation by 10% to 20%, another cost savings.
- Improved quality of the crops, vegetables and fruits. Brix, a measure of sugars and solids in plant tissues and fruits, and an indicator of nutritional content and flavor, has been demonstrated to be higher for plants using biofertilization versus conventional fertilization.
- Improved disease resistance—healthier plants have the innate ability to resist many diseases. Increased microorganism populations in the rhizosphere also create a more competitive and hostile environment to soil borne pathogens. This can translate into the reduced need and cost for chemical pesticides.
- Improved soil fertility and structure—organic matter requires time to build up, and biofertilizers enable this process to begin and increase over time. Organic matter has many benefits such as improved soil fertility, soil structure and ability to hold and conserve water.
- Improved turf, plant or crop health for operations that use reclaimed water for irrigation. In some cases, reclaimed water can have high salt and/or chloride content that can damage turf or crops. The soil microbes have been shown to diminish this damage.
For an excellent understanding of how soil microbes benefit soil and plant growth, “Teaming with Microbes”, by Jeff Lowenfels & Wayne Lewis.
For an understanding of efficient application of nutrients and minerals to crops, “Hands-On Agronomy” by Neal Kinsey & Charles Walters is a great resource.
Read the attached file to learn about how Biofertilization can reduce nitrate runoff and leaching
Read the attached file to learn how Biofertilization can reduce soil damage when reclaimed water is used for irrigation
Read the attached for a global perspective on the importance of soil microbes.