Bio-Fertilizers Explained

Bio-Fertilizers Explained

28 December 2022

Going by the name, are you thinking they are natural fertilizers? wrong! Read on to understand everything you need to know about biofertilizers.

The name "BioFertilizer" is a verb - meaning, that which actually fertilizes the plants and trees. And not the noun - meaning, the fertilizer itself! Let  me explain.

In the conventional sense when we say fertilizers, we understand they are chemical substances that are applied to the plants for their nourishment and growth.

However, Biofertilizers are beneficial microorganisms that live in a substrate medium. They are applied to plants either as aerial spray or through the soil along with manure/compost. They are the ones responsible for making the nutrients available in the manure water soluble which can then be absorbed by plant roots. In organic/natural farming practices, they are used instead of chemical fertilizers. They are also used in combination with chemical fertilizers to improve plant growth and yield. Biofertilizers can help provide plants with essential macronutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur, as well as trace elements like zinc, iron, and manganese.

The most commonly used substrate medium are; Talcum powder (White in color), Lignite (Black in color), bran of any grain (like; Rice bran, wheat bran, oat bran etc - typically brown in color)

There are several types of biofertilizers, including nitrogen-fixing bacteria, phosphorus-solubilizing bacteria, Zinc solubilizing bacteria, mycorrhizae etc. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria are responsible for converting nitrogen gas in the air into a form that plants can use. Phosphorus-solubilizing bacteria help to make phosphorus more available to plants by breaking down insoluble forms of the nutrient. Mycorrhizae are fungi that form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of plants, helping them to absorb nutrients from the soil.

Biofertilizers have several advantages over chemical fertilizers. They are more environmentally friendly and sustainable, as they do not rely on fossil fuels for their production and can help to improve soil health. They are also typically less expensive than chemical fertilizers, and can be more effective in certain soils or growing conditions.

While chemical fertilizers can supply nutrients to the soil instantly when applied, Biofertilizers need time to integrate in to the soil, multiply and colonize before they start becoming effective. Chemical fertilizers kill the soil microbes and makes the soil unusable over time where as the Biofertilizers continuously enriches the soil and builds the soil over time for healthy and robust growth of plants for better yields.

Application Guidelines for Container Gardening:

For preparing a new soil mix;  you will need approx. 1kg of biofertilizer per 500kg of new soil mix.

A soil mix for terrace garden typically consists of equal proportions of compost, cocopeat and redsoil along with biofertlizers and other nutritional supplements (like; Pongemia cake, Neem cake, Rock phoshpate, Epsom salt, Dolomite etc.)

A typical 12" plastic pot can hold between 6 to 8kg of soil mix and requires about 15g of biofertilizers. Also, since the soil volume is very low when compared to farming on the land, the biofertlizers deplete faster in a container and requires more frequent topup. About 1tsp (5g) per quarter when applied to the pot will keep the microbial count in balance.

Biofertilizers for the farm varies depending on the size and type of crop/plantation. Contact us for expert advice to decide on the type and amount of biofertilizers required.

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