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Biofertilizers


One of the major concerns in today's world is the pollution and contamination of soil. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has caused tremendous harm to the environment. An answer to this is the biofertilizer, an environmentally friendly fertilizer now used in most countries. Biofertilizers are organisms that enrich the nutrient quality of soil. The main sources of biofertilizers are bacteria, fungi, and cynobacteria (blue-green algae). The most  striking relationship that these have with plants is symbiosis, in which the partners derive benefits from each other.

Biofertilizer

Plants have a number of relationships with fungi, bacteria, and algae, the most common of which are with mycorrhiza, rhizobium, and cyanophyceae. These are known to deliver a number of benefits including plant nutrition, disease resistance, and tolerance to adverse soil and climatic conditions. These techniques have proved to be successful biofertilizers that form a health relationship with the roots. 

Biofertilizers will help solve such problems as increased salinity of the soil and chemical run-offs from the agricultural fields. Thus, biofertilizers are important if we are to ensure a healthy future for the generations to come.


Mycorrhiza

Mycorrhizae are a group of fungi that include a number of types based on the different structures formed inside or outside the root. These are specific fungi that match with a number of favourable parameters of the the host plant on which it grows. This includes soil type, the presence of particular chemicals in the soil types, and other conditions.

These fungi grow on the roots of these plants. In fact, seedlings that have mycorrhizal fungi growing on their roots survive better after transplantation and grow faster. The fungal symbiont gets shelter and food from the plant which, in turn, acquires an array of benefits such as better uptake of phosphorus, salinity and drought tolerance, maintenance of water balance, and overall increase in plant growth and development.

While selecting fungi, the right fungi have to be matched with the plant. There are specific fungi for vegetables, fodder crops, flowers, trees, etc.

Mycorrhizal fungi can increase the yield of a plot of land by 30%-40%. It can absorb phosphorus from the soil and pass it on to the plant. Mycorrhizal plants show higher tolerance to high soil temperatures, various soil- and root-borne pathogens, and heavy metal toxicity.

biofertilizers

Legume-rhizobium relationship

Leguminous plants require high quantities of nitrogen compared to other plants. Nitrogen is
an inert gas and its uptake is possible only in fixed form, which is facilitated by the rhizobium
bacteria present in the nodules of the root system. The bacterium lives in the soil to form root
nodules (i.e. outgrowth on roots) in plants such as beans, gram, groundnut, and soybean.


Blue-green algae

Blue-green algae are considered the simplest, living autotrophic plants, i.e. organisms capable of building up food materials from inorganic matter. They are microscopic. Blue-green algae are widely distributed in the aquatic environment. Some of them are responsible for water blooms in stagnant water. They adapt to extreme weather conditions and are found in snow and in hot springs, where the water is 85 C.

Certain blue-green algae live intimately with other organisms in a symbiotic relationship. Some are associated with the fungi in form of lichens. The ability of blue-green algae tophotosynthesize food and fix atmospheric nitrogen accounts for their symbiotic associations and also for their presence in paddy fields.

Blue-green algae are of immense economic value as they add organic matter to the soil and increase soil fertility. Barren alkaline lands in India have been reclaimed and made productive by inducing the proper growth of certain blue-green algae.

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