Beneficial microbial products will enable micro-organisms to play an increasingly important role in the development of sustainable horticultural systems for the future. Reducing our reliance on conventional fertilizer and chemical inputs, Andrew Gough of Lallemand Plant Care outlines what can be achieved.
Increasing soil nutrient availability - biofertilizers
The concentration and diversity of microbes found in and around the roots of healthy plants is typically much greater than in the rest of the soil.
Plant roots provide sustenance for these microbes through the release of nourishing exudates. In return, these same microbes promote plant growth directly by either facilitating resource acquisition or stimulating the useful production of plant growth hormones.
Enhancing natural metabolic processes and stress tolerance
Plant biostimulants can be either microbes, or their derivatives, that stimulate a range of useful natural processes. These can be increasing nutrient uptake efficiency, enhancing tolerance of abiotic or biotic stresses and improving crop quality.
Preventing pests and diseases
Microbes can be used as biocontrol agents preventing proliferation of plant pathogens and other pests.
The incidence and severity of such challenges can be reduced through direct effects such as parasitism and/or disruption of crucial systemic functions. In addition, microbes with antifungal activities compete against pathogens by rapidly colonizing aerial plant parts and roots, using most of the available nutrients making it difficult for pathogens to grow.
The biofungicide Prestop® provides effective control of a wide range of plant pathogens in ornamentals and other high value crops. Increasingly being used by ornamental growers throughout Europe, it is helping to control a number of damping-off, root and base rot diseases as well as aerial plant diseases caused by pathogens including Botrytis, Pythium, Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia Fusarium and Didymella. With multiple modes of action Prestop has the potential to improve resistance management. In addition, application methods are flexible and for convenience it can now be premixed in to growing media.
Some key factors when producing microbial products are
- The genus, species and strain of the microbe – it is vital to qualify the identity and the beneficial properties of each microbe.
- The concentration – the number of viable and active micro-organisms present – measured in colony forming units (CFU) per kilogram or per litre.
- Purity – it is crucial to have stable and regular micro-organisms with no contaminants.
In addition, it is of course necessary to have the correct formulation, preparation and application. For further information and advice, speak to your ICL area technical sales manager who will be happy to assist.
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