1. Introduction to the Benefits and Activities of Bio-fertilizers
Bio-fertilizer is a 100% natural and organic fertilizer that helps to provide all the nutrients and micro-organisms required for the benefits of the plants. It contains a large population of beneficial micro-organisms that enhance the productivity of the soil and increase plant growth either by fixing atmospheric Nitrogen or by solubilising minerals in the soil, including those unabsorbable by roots, and by stimulating plant growth through the synthesis of growth promoting substances.
The term “bio” means living; so bio-fertilizers refer to living, microbial inoculants that are added to the soil.
Micro-organisms create a micro environment around the roots of plants that makes nutrients easily available to the plants and helps to retain water.
When you use chemical fertilizers and chemical sprays, however, most of these micro-organisms die forever, and as a result the soil loses its capacity to provide sustainable growth in the long term.
Bio-fertilizers can be used on the soil as a high quality organic fertilizer and as a corrector of pH, bacterial life, and texture. They have a relatively high nutrient concentration, and can be used to prepare the soil before planting. Bio-Plant, for example, is especially effective in soil preparation when mixed with organic matter. The micro-organisms feed rapidly on the organic matter and multiply rapidly. The organic matter becomes like a factory mass-producing micro-organisms, which spread out and fertilize the soil.
The advantages of using bio-fertilizers are enormous. Not only are they very economical, but they produce high agricultural yields.
Bio-fertilizers include phosphate-solubilizing microbes. Phosphorus is an important nutrient for plants. There are several micro-organisms which can solubilize the common sources of phosphorus, such as rock phosphate. They solubilise the bound phosphorus and make it available to the plant, resulting in improved growth and yield of crops. Soil phosphates are rendered available to plants by soil micro-organisms through the secretion of organic acids. In this way, phosphate-dissolving soil micro-organisms play an important part in correcting phosphorus deficiency in the soil. They may also release soluble inorganic phosphate into the soil through the decomposition of phosphate-rich organic compounds. Bio-fertilizers can substitute almost 20% to 25% of the phosphorus requirement of plants.
2. The Phosphorus Cycle Microbial Solubilization of Phosphate
Bio-fertilizers improve soil fertility and enhance nutrient uptake and water uptake in deficient soils, thereby improving the establishment of plants. Bio-fertilizers also secrete growth substances and anti-fungal chemicals, as well as improve seed germination and root growth.
The combined effects of phosphorus- and potassium-mobilizing micro-organisms and specific nitrogen-fixing bacteria enrich the soil and cost less than chemical fertilizers, which harm the environment and deplete non-renewable energy sources.
Bio-fertilizers decompose organic material and help to build up the micro-flora, which in turn improves the health of the soil, enhances the growth of plants and increases the yield of crops.
3. Some General Benefits of Bio-fertilizers Compared to Chemical Fertilizers
Bio-fertilizers, such as Bio-Plant and Pro-Plant, have strong advantages over chemical fertilizers. For example:
a. Chemical fertilizers supply an abundance of Nitrogen and depending on the kind, also Phosphorus and Potassium, whereas bio-fertilizers provide in addition to these major minerals, minor minerals, certain growth-promoting substances, such as hormones, vitamins, amino acids, etc..
b. Chemical crops have to be provided with chemical fertilizers repeatedly to replenish the loss of Nitrogen utilised for crop growth. One reason for this is that chemical agriculture kills off the microbial life that provides the plants with the Nitrogen they need, thereby making them dependent on chemical “fixes” of Nitrogen. Bio-fertilizers, however, supply the Nitrogen continuously through natural processes throughout the entire period of crop growth in the field under favourable conditions.
c. Continuous use of chemical fertilisers adversely affects the soil structure by killing off soil micro-organisms and thereby disrupting essential processes (see diagram below) that create fertile soil. Bio-fertilizers provide chemical soil the micro-organisms that restore these processes and thereby improve the soil structure.