What are Bio-Fertilisers?
Bio-Fertilisers have been widely used for many years in North and South America, Canada, Asia, the Middle East, Africa New Zealand and Australia.
Bio-Fertilisers are inoculants based on selected strains of naturally occurring bacteria which live on organic matter in the soil, in close association with the plants roots or on the leaves of crops and which fix Nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form that can be utilised by the crop.
Bio-Fertilisers work in a similar way to rhizobium bacteria in clover and other legumes. They are designed to be applied using a conventional crop sprayer usually in the Spring.
They can be used on most commercial crops not just legumes though Bio-Fertilisers are particularly effective in promoting the growth and nitrogen fixing ability of legumes such as red or white clover, peas and beans. Bio-Fertiliser bacterial inoculants have been used successfully on a very wide range of crops overseas, including grassland, maize, wheat, barley, rice, soya, beans, groundnut, cotton, sunflower, rape and other brassicas, horticultural crops, fruit crops, glass house crops and even forestry and flowers.
Nitroguard, TwinN and eNrich
Bio-Fertilisers have been trialled over several years on a range of crops on commercial farms in the UK and at Warwickshire College, Moreton Morrell.
Results can be impressive. On grassland the equivalent of up to 6 - 8 bags of ammonium nitrate / acre has been cut to 1 bag on nitrogen and one or two applications of bio-fertiliser. Yields were maintained and Moreton Morell's fertiliser bill was cut by well over £12000.
Fertiliser inputs were cut from 200t of N and 60t of P and K per year to 28t of N and a small amount of phosphate for the maize. Yet after 4 years use, soil organic matter and earth worm populations have improved and P and K indices have increased.
Also at the college use of TwinN on spring barley compared with conventional nitrogen fertiliser, resulted in an increase in yield of 1tonne per acre. The benefits of Bio-Fertilisers have been confirmed by a number of trials by ADAS and other organisations within the UK. Bio-Fertilisers are probably most effective when used to replace around half the nitrogen normally applied from conventional chemical fertilisers. Twin N has now been replaced by a new improved bio-fertiliser, Nitroguard.
Bio-fertiliser works best on healthy soils in conjunction with a
reduced application of conventional fertiliser
Bio-fertilisers supply nitrogen fixing bacteria which are active both in the soil and in the plant acting as a soil conditioners, converting nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form that can be used by the crop and increasing the uptake of a wide range of nutrients by the plant.
Nitroguard and TwinN have the added advantages that in addition to a range of soil active bacteria they also contains a novel strain of endophytic bacteria which live on the leaves of the plant and supply nitrogen directly to the crop canopy.
Results show that Nitroguard and TwinN are highly effective in a wide range of crops providing clear economic benefits resulting from either significant yield increases or production of comparable yields with reduced applications of nitrogenous fertilisers.
Fertiliser applications account for almost 20% of the CO2 emissions associated with UK dairy farming. Switching from conventional chemical fertilisers to Nitroguard, TwinN, eNrich or Organic-N enables UK farmers to do their bit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, dramatically cut Nitrogen inputs, reduce diffuse Nitrogen pollution and Nitrogen run-off, whilst significantly reducing input costs. This is obviously a very attractive option for both dairy and livestock farmers as well as for arable farmers.
Use of Bio-Fertiliser allows reduced Nitrogen inputs in NVZ's (Nitrogen Vulnerable Zones) where maximum levels of Nitrogen are now tightly controlled. Reduced Nitrogen inputs gain more points under the Entry Level Stewardship Scheme. Bio-Fertilisers also have the advantage that they can be used safely in organic farming systems and can go a long way towards lifting organic crop yields much closer to yields obtained under conventional non-organic cropping.
Cut Your Fertiliser Bill by Thousands of Pounds
Using Bio-Fertilisers - Soil Management
The move to using Bio-Fertilisers should be seen as a complete system of soil management, not just a means of reducing Nitrogen inputs. There are huge benefits to using this new technology including increased earthworm populations, higher levels of soil organic matter, healthier soils, stronger plants, healthier crops, increased root development and improved uptake of a wide range of plant nutrients including P and K (Phosphorous and Potassium), lower input costs, reduced environmental pollution and in many cases increased crop yields.
However for soil bacteria to thrive and be effective they require a healthy well aerated soil with at least 2.5% - 3% organic matter in the soil. Not usually a problem on grassland for most dairy farms.
Optimum results will not however, be achieved on heavily compacted, nutrient deficient, water logged soils or soils with very low organic matter levels or where soils are worn out, low in pH and general nutrient status.
Bio-Fertilisers are normally applied after T-Sum 200 is reached usually in late February, March or early April. It takes several weeks for the inoculated microbial population to establish and to reach optimum numbers. A reduced initial application of conventional Nitrogen fertiliser or slurry in early spring will provide Nitrogen until the Bio-Fertiliser bacteria inoculant kicks in.
Once established the bacterial inoculant will generally provide nitrogenfor up to 2 - 3 months. However on some crops and intensive grassland it may be advisable to top up with additional applications of Bio-Fertiliser, slurry or reduced applications of conventional fertiliser in late Spring or early Summer ahead of peak crop nutrient demand as and where required.
Some of the best results on intensive cereals have been where conventional nitrogen fertiliser has been reduced by a third to a half and one or two doses of TwinN applied. Trials have shown crop yields comparable to full dose nitrogen with healthier plants and reduced growing costs.
These new Bio-Fertilisers have great potential for anyone growing grass, clover, maize, cereals or virtually any other crop. Applying Bio-Fertilisers can result in healthier higher yielding crops and sometimes major saving in overall fertiliser costs.
Contact Richard Webster for further information on how Bio-Fertilisers can work for you