In the past few decades, climate change has emerged as a global concern due to increasing temperatures and extreme weather conditions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that environmentally degrading human activities are causing drastic changes in climate which are at times irreversible.
With the rising concerns of climate change, agricultural activities need to be carried out using green and sustainable solutions to improve yield. With the rising need to have farmable land for agricultural purposes, it’s essential to use eco-friendly, sustainable solutions to retain soil health and fertility. This is ultimately driving growth for biofertilizers in recent years.
Since chemical fertilizers degrade soil health over time, biofertilizers are emerging as the new ultimate solution for retaining soil fertility. Let’s dive into the world of biofertilizers and see how they are revolutionizing agriculture in 2023 to feed the 8 billion worldwide population.
Biofertilizers Emerging as a Sustainable Solution to Retain Soil Health
Biofertilizers are defined as microbial substances that contain microorganisms that are added to the soil for improving soil fertility and encouraging plant growth. Since biofertilizers do not adversely affect the environment, they aim to restore initial soil fertility. With the need to integrate sustainable solutions for crop development and soil fertility, biofertilizers are emerging as natural fertilizers promising great results.
The biofertilizers market is anticipated to reach a valuation of USD 5.45 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 12.2% during the forecast period 2022-2030. Previously valued at USD 2.60 billion in 2021, the market is poised for growth and is expected to expand rapidly.
Soil degradation due to agricultural, industrial, and commercial pollution is affecting the growth of crops essential to feed the ever-growing population. According to the United Nations, nearly one-third of the world’s farmable land has either degraded or ceased to exist in the past four decades. Furthermore, approximately 24 billion tons of fertile land are lost each year as a result of severe desertification and deforestation.
Which Types of Biofertilizers Are Gaining Traction Today?
With a need to improve soil fertility for better yield, biofertilizers are gaining traction in today’s agricultural scenario. There are several types of biofertilizers that are used for different types of crops. This is because every crop requires certain types of nutrients to improve its growth and development. Here are some types of biofertilizers used:
1. Microbial Inoculant: Microbial inoculants are soil amendments that can be added to your soil to raise its overall quality, promote the development of robust plants, and reduce the risk of soil-borne diseases. A mixture of microbes known as "microbial inoculants" works with the soil's life to increase the fertility and health of the soil.
- Rhizobium Inoculant: Rhizobium inoculants are a type of microorganism applied to legume seeds once it germinates, responsible for ensuring nitrogen to the plant. This will help in improving soil conditions for plant growth.
- Cyanobacterial Inoculant: Cyanobacterial inoculant improves the fertility of different textured soils. By improving water retention capabilities in the soil, it can be helpful in regions with limited water supply or no rain.
- Azospirillum Inoculant: Azospirillum inoculants are nitrogen-fixing organisms in the rhizosphere which help to enhance the growth and development of different types of host plants.
- Azotobacter Inoculant: According to the National Institutes of Health, with an ability to improve plant health through nitrogen fixation, azotobacter is one of the best options of a biofertilizer for sustainable crop production. This is usually used for improving crop growth of wheat, maize, mustard, potato and various other vegetable crops.
2. Solubilizing Bacterias: Solubilizing bacterias are plant probiotics which aim to promote plant growth and development. There are several types including:
- Potassium Solubilizing Bacterias: Potassium solubilizing bacteria is a mobilizing biofertilizer that converts potassium-bearing minerals into soluble forms of potassium for agricultural use.
- Zinc Solubilizing Bacterias: By colonizing the rhizosphere and converting complicated zinc compounds into simpler ones, these bacteria aid in the improvement of plant growth and development. Acidification is one of the many processes used by microorganisms that solubilize zinc for plant growth.
- Sulfur Solubilizing Bacterias: Sulfur solubilizing bacteria create living cells that expand, proliferate, and mobilize the soil's insoluble sulfur. As a result, it eventually improves and increases sulfur absorption, making it more accessible to the plant and aiding its overall development.
- Phosphate Solubilizing Bacterias: By mineralizing organic phosphorus (P), solubilizing inorganic phosphorus minerals, and storing significant amounts of P in biomass, phosphorus-solubilizing microorganisms (PSMs), a large microflora that mediates bioavailable soil P.
Biofertilizers Revolutionizing Modern Agriculture Practices in 2023?
There are several use cases of biofertilizers in today’s world essential for retaining soil health. For instance, an American agricultural solutions provider by the name of Corteva Agriscience and Symborg (a sister company of Corteva Agriscience) entered a strategic partnership to develop and manufacture a microbe-based nitrogen fixation biofertilizer to improve crop yield and increase the productivity of farmers.
To retain the soil's fertility, biofertilizers are necessary. The use of chemical fertilizers over a long period of time degrades the soil and reduces agricultural yield. On the other hand, biofertilizers help to improve the soil's ability to retain water while also adding vital nutrients like nitrogen, vitamins, and proteins to the soil. Since they are a natural type of fertilizer, agriculture uses them extensively.
Some microbes are used in biofertilizers. These microbes capture nitrogen from the atmosphere, convert it to ammonia, and then make it accessible to plants. Additionally, they change refractory phosphates into the forms that plants need. By using the right type and amount of biofertilizers, farmers can benefit with better yield, lower cost and higher productivity. This will help to direct the road to global food security.