Biofertilizers are substance that contain living microorganism that when applied to seeds, plant surface or soil promotes growth by increasing the supply or availability of primary nutrients to the host plant. They are types of bio fertilisers that uses microorganism to improve soil fertility and plant health.
For example: 1 Bacterial Biofertilizers like Rhizobium, Azotobacter
2 Fungal biofertilizer help to solubilize Phosphorus
3 Algal biofertilizer which fix atmospheric nitrogen
Biofertilizer and soil health:
Around 29.7% soil area is degraded in India owing to heavy leaching and overuse of chemical fertilizers. Estimate indicate that one third of the world soil is degraded due to chemicalisation. Biofertilizers can mitigate the effects and improve the soil heath.
- increase nutrient availability: biofertilizers contain microorganism that can fix atmospheric nitrogen, solubilise phosphorous and make other nutrients more available to plants.
- Improve soil structure: it can be done by increasing the amount of organic matter in the soil. This can make the soil more porous and also increase water holding which can help to reduce erosion and improve changes. Biofertilizers such as Azolla and Rhizobium help to increase the organic matter content of the soil. Organic matter is a key component of the soil that helps to trap water molecules for example a study in India found that the application of Azospirillum biofertilizer has increased the water holding capacity of wheat soil by 25%.
- Promote plant growth: by producing growth promoting substances. These substances can help to improve the plant resistance to pests.
- Reduce environmental pollution: they do not release harmful pollutants in the environment.
- Enhance the availability of nitrogen content in soil and sustain nitrogen cycle.
For example, Rhizobium bacteria can fix atmospheric nitrogen which is often deficient in the soil.
Azotobacter also fix the atmospheric nitrogen.
In spite of many positive impacts biofertilizers may not be useful in all soils for all crops. This is because microbes in biofertilizer need specific conditions in order to survive for e.g. Some biofertilizers need natural or slightly alkaline soil Ph while others need more acidic Ph
But overall, the potential side effects of biofertilizers are minor.
However, it is important to be aware of risks and to use biofertilizers correctly
Effects of poor health of soil:
1.food crisis: in 20 years 40% less food is expected to be produced for 9.3 billion people. Poor soil led to poor nutritional value. 2 billion people suffer from nutritional deficiencies leading to multitude of problems.
2 water scarcity: depleted soil cannot absorb and regulate water flow. Lack of water retention lead to water scarcity, droughts and floods.
3.loss of biodiversity: around 27000 species of life forms are becoming extinct every year due to loss of habitat. This crisis has reached a point where 80% of the insects biomas gone
- climate change: if worlds soil is not revitalised, they could release 850 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contributing to climate change.
- 5. loss of livelihood: thousands of farmers are committing suicide due to depletion of the soil. 74% of the poor are directly affected by land degradation globally.
6.conflicts and migration: it will cause 1 billion people to migrate to the other regions by 2050.
Land issues have played a significant role in over 90% of major wars and conflicts in Africa since 1990. From French revolution to Arab spring high food prices have been cited as a factor behind mass protest movements.