The future of farming – 100% biological solutions to lower nitrogen use and increase crop yields

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It is estimated that as little as 30% of all applied fertigation is taken up by the crops it is applied too, the excess acts to reduce the biodiversity of essential microbes in the soils, compounded with soil organic matter reducing at an alarming rate, is there a viable solution for those interested in sympathetic soil management?

PlantWorks, one of Europe’s largest producers of pure culture mycorrhizal fungi has developed products under its Smart Rotations brand that are 100% biological, proven to reduce nitrogen use whilst increasing crop yields and profits.

The company undertook a major seven-year research drive in collaboration with key agronomy companies and its own monitor farms, to understand the connection between improving soil biology and reducing applied nitrogen in wheat production using Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR). The results show how increasing soil biology increases plants efficiency at using applied fertigation and allows for significant reduction in nitrogen.

Yield increase

Additional trials included winter and spring wheat, barley, oats, sugar beet, carrot, onion and red onion demonstrated an average yield increase of 7% compared to control crops and a significantly high increase of 15.2% in onions and 24% in carrots.

Using the key findings from the trials PlantWorks’ team of scientists has developed a series of products that feature the correct consortia of bacteria for different crops. The OF&G certified SR3 range includes seven varieties, each uniquely balanced to the crop they are intended for.

In addition to increasing overall yield, spraying crops with SR3 helps to increase nitrogen and potassium availability and uptake, improves plant resistance to pathogens, enhances drought tolerance and water efficiency and builds microbial communities which are crucial to the agroecosystem.

The formulas, which should be sprayed directly to ground post emergence, are supplied in pure monoculture in liquid, optimising the function of bacteria and making them easy to add to sprayer tanks.

PlantWorks’ Robert Patten said: “Our research clearly shows that appropriate interventions with tuned bio fertilisers can significantly increase plant efficiency and health and improve crop yield whilst reducing the use of artificial fertigation. We believe this is just the start of an exciting chapter in modern farming.”

PlantWorks Ltd is the UK’s only mass producer of mycorrhizal fungi and produces a range of products for agriculture, developed by a qualified group of mycologists and bacteriologists through collaboration throughout the country’s academic base.

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