I was curious about the health of the environment in relation to the practice of farmers. I found a very effective and environmental-friendly but less exploited means by which you as a farmer can increase your farm yield at relatively low cost. This is biofertilizer. There are different types of biofertilizers you can use as a means of replenishing the soil nutrients without causing any menace to the environment; it is ideal for organic farming.
It is unhealthy when we produce food to nourish the populace and conversely devise a means to make the habitat of the populace unfavorable. Farming practices of some farmers are causing a major environmental hazard in the world today.
Aside from the emission from manufacturing industries, some farming practices also create unrest in the environment. Environmental pollution and contamination of underground water are often the effects of fertilizer application, either an organic fertilizer or inorganic. The best alternative to the fertilization process in crop production is the use of biofertilizers.
Stay glued as I reveal to you; the meaning of biofertilizer, types of biofertilizers, where to get it and the uses of biofertilizers. Also, you can download Biofertilizer pdf if you care to have a resource material on biofertilizer production.
What is biofertilizer?
You would observe that there are two root words coming together to form biofertilizer. “bio” and “fertilizer”. “Bio” means anything that has life, literally a living thing; while fertilizer is any material, either organic or synthetic origin, added to the soil, seed or plant parts to promote crop growth by improving the soil fertility.
Simply put; biofertilizer is a living material, naturally existing or cultured, added to the soil, seeds or plant roots to promote crop growth by improving the soil fertility.
However, biofertilizers are not fertilizers. Yes, they are not.
This because biofertilizer is a living thing that has life and undergoes various biological processes like other living things. In the case of fertilizers, they are obviously non-living.
To further make it clear. Fertilizers will increase the soil fertility by directly adding various nutrients it was intended for; biofertilizers will add nutrients to the soil through their various biological processes; it can be said to be an indirect means of improving the soil fertility.
The advantages of these types of biofertilizers over the conventional fertilizers are; they cause no harm to the environment and also increases crop yield at a low cost.
You may want to ask what type of nutrient does biofertilizer add to the soil:
Just like how we have fertilizers that supply the primary element needed by the plants, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, we also have different types of biofertilizers that do exactly that. There are biofertilizers that fix atmospheric nitrogen and those that solubilize phosphorus to a simpler form for plant use.
Importance of biofertilizers in agriculture is unquantifiable; especially in this present world where the population is increasing at an increasing rate with limited arable land for cultivation; hence, maximum yield must be gotten from limited available land.
Types of Biofertilizers
Now that you have the full glimpses of what biofertilizer looks like, we can now proceed to the different types of biofertilizers used in agriculture. They are:
1. Bacteria biofertilizer
Bacteria biofertilizers are the most common types of biofertilizers. They are bacteria that help in fixing different nutrients needed for plant growth in the soil. They fix Nitrogen, solubilize Phosphorus and secrete other growth-enhancing substances to support plant growth.
Examples of bacteria biofertilizers are: Azotobacter, Clostridium, Rhizobium, etc.; the most popular bacteria biofertilizer is the Rhizobium.
Rhizobium is a bacterial biofertilizer that fixes atmospheric Nitrogen into the soil for plant growth. It resides in the roots of legumes, such as groundnut, soybean, and cowpea. Their existence in the root region is marked by the formation of nodules found in the roots of these crops.
Rhizobium as a biofertilizer forms a symbiotic relationship with these crops; the root provides an abode for the bacteria while the bacteria, in turn, fix Nitrogen into the soil for the plant uptake. This is why legumes are the best choice in an intercropping form of crop cultivation.
Azotobacter and Azospirillum are other Nitrogen-fixing bacteria that are capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen in any crop.
2. Fungi biofertilizer
Fungi are non-green microorganisms; aside from making phosphorus available in the soil for plant uptake, they help to aggregate the soil structure. For fungi biofertilizer to deliver as expected, it has to form a symbiotic relationship within roots of the plant.
Such a relationship is called Mycorrhiza; with this relationship, the fungi biofertilizer will effectively allow the release and absorption of nutrients, especially Phosphorus.
There are about 8 types of mycorrhiza relationships but one of agricultural importance is Arbuscular mycorrhiza.
Arbuscular mycorrhiza is the most common form of symbiotic relationship between a fungus and the roots of vascular plants. Plants under mycorrhiza relationship have the following advantages over non-mycorrhizal plants:
- They have the ability to withstand drought better than non-mycorrhizal plants.
- They are protected from pathogens, nematodes and heavy metal concentration in the root zone of plants.
- The soil condition is improved; hence, it is well aerated and the movement of nutrient within the soil is easy.
- The plants enjoy rapid growth as a result of adequate phosphorus supply and the production of phytohormones such as cytokinin which may have positive effects on the plant growth.
Cyanobacteria are also called blue-green algae. These types of biofertilizers are both aquatic and terrestrial organisms that help to fix atmospheric Nitrogen for plant use. Examples of cyanobacteria are Azolla, species of Nostoc and Anabaena.
Azolla is a biofertilizer plant of high importance in agriculture; it supplies Nitrogen for crop growth and also a rich source of protein in livestock feed.
How to use biofertilizers
I’m sure you now have a clear picture of what biofertilizer is; here is the much-anticipated part of this write-up. There are a couple of ways you can use biofertilizers; the aim is to achieve a union between the biofertilizer and the plant roots. You can apply these biofertilizers through the following ways:
- Direct soil application: You can introduce the inoculant directly to the soil before planting by mixing a recommended quantity of the inoculant in a carrier. The carrier is commonly an organic material, mostly manure. the manure is then applied evenly to the soil before planting or transplanting.
- Seed treatment: Seed treatment is a pre-planting operation; in this context, the biofertilizers inoculants are made to come in contact with the seeds before planting. This is achieved by soaking the seeds in the inoculant slurry; the seeds are allowed to dry for about 15 minutes before planting
- Root dip: In case of transplanted seedlings, the inoculants are brought in contact with the roots of the seedings by dipping the root region of the seedlings in the solution of the inoculant for about 20 minutes before planting.
Where to get biofertilizers
Biofertilizers are living things that are naturally present in the soil. A good example is a Rhizobium that naturally finds its way to the roots of legumes; this occurs in every biofertilizer. However, for commercial or intensive cultivation, where crops are grown in greenhouses or screenhouses, biofertilizers need to be deliberately or artificially added to the soil.
There are biofertilizer manufacturers that produce biofertilizers commercially; this is the list of top biofertilizer companies:
Biofertilizers are living fertilizers that improve the soil conditions through the provision of nutrients for plant growth and stability of the soil to aid various biological processes within the soil. Biofertilizer is an ideal fertilizer for organic farming; it is a key player in enhancing soil fertility and crop productivity
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