Beneficial fungi and bacteria can be used as biofertilizers to improve crop yield and soil quality.
A mixture of beneficial fungi and bacteria has been harnessed into a biofertilizer product called “MykoPlus” to boost crop production while also improving the soil’s condition. Biofertilizers or microbial inoculants are preparations that contain live or latent cells of efficient strains of microorganisms. These biofertilizers are applied to seeds, soil or composting materials to increase the microorganism population and hasten certain microbial processes that improve that availability of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous to plants. Through such processes, nitrogen-fixing microorganisms transform nitrogen in the air into forms usable by plants. Phosphorous-solubilizing microorganisms release phosphorous. Organic matters are broken down. Also, many bacteria and fungi produce hormones or growth regulators that influence plant growth.
MykoPlus’ beneficial, multi-species bacteria and fungi include nitrogen fixers, phosphorous solubilizers, growth hormone secretors, and others. The MykoPlus technology offers an alternative way for farmers to reduce use of expensive chemical fertilizers and enrich the soil with beneficial microbes for sustainable agriculture.
To test and show the effects of MykoPlus in corn, researchers conducted trials in 10 farmers’ field sites in Isabela and Cagayan over four seasons. The results showed that coating corn seeds with MykoPlus (in powder form) before planting, enhanced grain yield by as much 10-50%. Also, applying chemical fertilizer can be reduced by 30% when MykoPlus is used.
Moreover, farmers in Pangasinan who used MykoPlus observed greater yield, enhanced crop rooting, taller shoots, and better survival from prolonged flooding brought about by typhoons that damaged the farms. MykoPlus was also found good for rice, sorghum, cassava, lettuce, and other vegetables. Greater grain yield was brought about in cereals through more productive tillers and more filled grains in rice as well as longer and wider corn cobs. The synergistic interaction of the mycorrhizal fungi and bacteria in MykoPlus brings about these good results.
Another important effect of applying MykoPlus is that it creates a diverse population of beneficial microorganisms that secretes multiple enzymes and proteins that serve as glue, food, and growth regulators for the mixed population and host plant. The addition of beneficial microorganisms, such as those in MykoPlus as part of agricultural management practices, brings back soil life, which has been affected by repeated and heavy application of chemical inputs.
MykoPlus is the latest biofertilizer or microbial inoculant developed by the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) as UP Los Baños through funding from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) and Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD).
Written by: Jocelyn T. Zarate University of the Philippines Los Baños Published by: Department of Science and Technology-Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII)