How Biopesticides and Biofertilizers Can Help in Sustainable Agriculture How Biopesticides and Biofertilizers Can Help in Sustainable Agriculture

Using Biopesticides and Biofertilizers: A Step Towards Sustainable Agriculture!

Biofertilizers1 and Biopesticides2 are the only answer to making farming sustainable, reducing dependence on chemical fertilizers, and helping save the environment.

But what are biofertilizers and biopesticides? In simple words, Biofertilizers and Biopesticides are biological and eco-friendly products that can boost the growth of crops, yield, and quality while protecting them from pests & diseases.

This super informative article will cover everything you need about Biofertilizers and Biopesticides, such as benefits, applications, challenges, and more.

1. Biofertilizers

1.1. What Are Biofertilizers?

As the name indicates, Biofertilizers are fertilizers based on bioproducts. They mainly contain microorganisms that, when applied to plants’ seeds, roots, or soil, increase plant fertility and promote plant growth by providing them with all the essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other micronutrients.

Biopesticides and Biofertilizers in Sustainable Agriculture!
Source: Pexels

An interesting thing about Biofertilizers is that they are different from chemical fertilizers, which are synthetic and harmful to the environment and our health.

In stark contrast, biofertilizers are pinnacles of natural and eco-friendly solutions, enhancing soil quality and bolstering its overall health.

1.2. Types Of Biofertilizers

Depending on the type of microorganism they contain and any nutrient they provide, there are different types of Biofertilizers:-

1.2.1. Nitrogen-fixing Biofertilizers:

These are remarkable biofertilizers that contain bacteria or cyanobacteria3 capable of converting atmospheric nitrogen into a plant-friendly form (that plants can use).

Notable examples include Rhizobium, Azospirillum, Azotobacter, Anabaena, and Nostoc.

What are biofertilizers | Types and importance of biofertilizers

1.2.2. Phosphate-solubilizing Biofertilizers:

These biofertilizers contain bacteria or fungi that can transform insoluble phosphate in the soil into a soluble form, making it accessible to plants. 

Examples of such biofertilizers are Bacillus, Pseudomonas, Aspergillus, and Penicillium.

1.2.3. Potassium-mobilizing Biofertilizers:

These Biofertilizers are equipped with bacteria or fungi that can liberate bound potassium in the soil; these biofertilizers ensure plants have access to this vital nutrient.

Some examples of Potassium-mobilizing Biofertilizers are – Frateuria, Bacillus & Trichoderma.

person holding a plant
Source: Pixabay

1.2.4. Micronutrient-providing biofertilizers:

These Biofertilizers contain bacteria or fungi that serve as micronutrient dispensaries, offering essential elements like iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and more to the plants.

Examples of such Biofertilizers are – Azotobacter4, Bacillus5, and Aspergillus6.

1.3. Role Of Biofertilizers

Biofertilizers are integral to modern agriculture and offer numerous advantages for crops and the environment.

And now, let’s see how these natural fertilizers play a vital role in enhancing various aspects of plant growth and soil health:-

  • First and foremost, biofertilizers contribute significantly to improved germination rates and promote root proliferation, resulting in healthier and more robust plants. But how? They achieve this by enriching the root rhizosphere with beneficial microorganisms, creating a livelier and more dynamic soil ecosystem.
  • Biofertilizers also facilitate the availability of essential nutrients to plants and produce growth-promoting substances, enhancing the quality and quantity of agricultural products and increasing fertilizer use efficiency.
Biopesticides and Biofertilizers in Sustainable Agriculture!
Source: Pixabay
  • Biofertilizers go the extra mile by bolstering a plant’s resilience to various stresses, whether biotic (related to living organisms) or abiotic (related to environmental factors). This resilience boost is a significant advantage in modern agriculture, where crop protection is paramount.
  • And that’s not all; one notable attribute of biofertilizers is their residual effect! They continue to benefit crops over time, contributing to the sustainability of agricultural systems, and this sustainability is further underscored by their ability to replace a substantial portion of chemical fertilizers and reduce the ecological footprint.
  • Biofertilizers also play a vital role in aiding the decomposition of plant residues while stabilizing the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio in the soil.

Enhance Soil Fertility and Safety

Mike Drouin - Featured
Mike Drouin

The primary advantage of using biofertilizers and biopesticides in agriculture centers around their sustainability and safety.

From my personal and professional standpoint, these natural products enhance soil fertility by fixing atmospheric nitrogen, solubilizing soil phosphate, and stimulating plant growth through the synthesis of growth-promoting substances.

Unlike chemical alternatives that can degrade soil health over time, biofertilizers improve soil texture and fertility, promoting a healthy ecosystem for plants to thrive.

Biopesticides, on the other hand, offer targeted pest control without collateral damage to beneficial insects or the surrounding environment.

This approach aligns closely with my commitment to promoting health and wellness through natural means, as it ensures food produced is free from harmful chemical residues, thereby supporting consumers’ well-being.

Mike Drouin, Co-founder, Digital Marketing Director, Gardening & Home Improvement expert- Reefertilizer, Reefertilizer

2. Biopesticides

2.1. What Are Biopesticides?

Biopesticides are biological pesticides that originate from natural sources- plants, living organisms, or microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.

These pesticides target various pests, weeds, and diseases using their unique biological properties, unlike conventional pesticides that use chemical poisoning.

How Biopesticides and Biofertilizers Can Help in Sustainable Agriculture
Source: Pexels

Biopesticides are typically less harmful, more specific, biodegradable, and less toxic to humans and the environment than their synthetic counterparts (traditional or chemical pesticides).

2.2. Types Of Biopesticides

Types of Biopesticides

Biopesticides can be classified into 3 main types, each with its unique approach to controlling pests:-

2.2.1. Microbial Biopesticides:

These biopesticides are derived from microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, or viruses.

If we talk about the examples, here are some popular examples of microbial biopesticides – Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium anisopliae, and Trichoderma harzianum.

Biopesticides and Biofertilizers in Sustainable Agriculture!
Source: Unsplash

2.2.2. Biochemical Pesticides:

Biopesticides are formulated from naturally existing compounds, including insect pheromones, plant extracts, and essential oils.

They are often used to repel or disrupt the behaviour of pests.

Examples of biochemical pesticides include – neem oil, pyrethrin, spinosad, and rotenone.

2.2.3. Plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs):

PIPs7 are genetically engineered plants that produce proteins or other compounds toxic to pests. They are primarily used to control insects and diseases. Examples include Bt corn, Bt potato, and Bt cotton.

Besides these categories, there are other biopesticides, such as physical biopesticides (e.g., diatomaceous earth, which damages the outer shells of insects) and semiochemicals (e.g., insect pheromones used to disrupt mating behaviour).

Biopesticides and Biofertilizers in Sustainable Agriculture!
Source: Pexels

2.3. Role Of Biopesticides

Now, we are aware of the fact that Biopesticides play an important role in sustainable agriculture and pest management, but apart from that, Biopesticides play some other important roles, like

  • Biopesticides can help reduce pesticide resistance in pests because pests are less likely to develop resistance to natural substances than to synthetic pesticides.
  • They also help improve soil health and biodiversity. But how? This is due to the presence of helpful microorganisms that can aid in the breakdown of organic matter and the improvement of soil fertility.
  • Their most important role is that they only target specific pests and have minimal impact on non-targeted organisms, and these organisms include birds, beneficial insects, and mammals.
Biopesticides and Biofertilizers in Sustainable Agriculture!
Source: Pixabay
  • They can potentially reduce synthetic chemical pesticides that may harm the environment, human health, and soil fertility, which means farmers don’t need to buy lots of expensive and dangerous chemicals.

Environmentally Safe and Sustainable Agriculture

Tammy Sons - Featured
Tammy Sons

Being a horticulturist, I understand the many advantages of bio-herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides. First, they are environmentally safe.

So many of our foods are getting micro-contaminated with poisons; this is the only safe consumption route for food crops.

Bios also promote sustainability, as in soil enhancements holding onto the natural soil nutrients and minerals needed to keep crops healthy while not depleting the soil’s composition and fertility.

Tammy Sons, CEO, TN Nursery

3. How Can Biopesticides And Biofertilizers Be Used In Sustainable Agriculture?

I understand you’re eager to learn about using biopesticides and biofertilizers in agriculture. So, here are some rules and tips that will help you to make the most of biopesticides and biofertilizers in your agricultural practices:-

  • Use biopesticides and biofertilizers as part of an Integrated pest management (IPM) program – IPM is a holistic approach to pest management that combines biological, cultural, and physical controls. Biopesticides and biofertilizers can be used as part of an IPM program to reduce the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
  • You must be smart about picking which biopesticides and biofertilizers to use on your crops. There are loads of options out there, so it’s essential to choose the ones that fit your needs – You can seek advice from your Agricultural extension office or a qualified Agronomist to make decisions.
How Biopesticides and Biofertilizers Can Help in Sustainable Agriculture
Source: Pexels
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying biopesticides and biofertilizers. Correct application is essential for outcomes. Take time to read and adhere to the instructions on the product label.
  • As a part of your crop management practices, it is essential to consistently monitor your crops for the presence of pests or diseases. Upon early detection, consider the application of biopesticides and biofertilizers to prevent damage.

Here are a few specific instances that illustrate how biopesticides and biofertilizers can play a role in agriculture;

  • Biopesticides have the ability to tackle a range of pests such as – insects, mites, nematodes & fungi. There’s this one popular biopesticide called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which is a type of biopesticide that effectively controls caterpillars. Similarly, Beauveria bassiana is another biopesticide that has been proven effective against aphids and other bodied insects.
Biopesticides and Biofertilizers in Sustainable Agriculture!
Source: Pexels
  • Biofertilizers are beneficial in enhancing soil fertility and boosting crop yields. For example – Rhizobium bacteria can fix nitrogen in the soil, and mycorrhizal fungi make it easier for plants to grab nutrients from the soil.

Biofertilizers: Boosting Soil Health and Plant Growth

Jeremy Yamaguchi
Jeremy Yamaguchi

Biofertilizers can enhance soil health and help plant growth in many ways. They can produce plant growth regulators, which help plants to grow more quickly and healthily.

They help to make the soil more fertile, which creates a more ideal environment for plants to grow. They even help plant roots to absorb minerals more effectively. These are just some of the many benefits.

Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO, Lawn Love

4. Some Potential Challenges In The Use of Biofertilizers & Biopesticides

Biofertilizers and Biopesticides are gaining popularity as eco-friendly alternatives to synthetic or chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

But, like everything else, there are certain drawbacks to their use:-

  • High Cost: The production of Biopesticides and Biofertilizers is often difficult, and they also have a shorter shelf life; due to this reason, biopesticides and biofertilizers can be more expensive than synthetic chemical products, especially in the short term.
  • Limited Availability: Biopesticides and biofertilizers are less widely available than synthetic chemical products. You won’t find them everywhere, since they are a newer technology and fewer companies are producing them.
  • Lack of awareness: The biggest challenge is that many farmers are unaware of the benefits of biopesticides and biofertilizers or how to use them effectively.
machine spreading Biopesticides And Biofertilizers
Source: Pixabay
  • Regulatory hurdles: Getting approval for new biopesticides and biofertilizers can be a hassle and time-consuming, slows new products from hitting the market.
  • Storage and transportation: Biopesticides and biofertilizers are living organisms, so they must be stored and transported carefully to ensure they remain viable for usage.
  • Efficacy/Effectiveness: Sometimes biopesticides and biofertilizers can be less effective than synthetic or chemical products under certain conditions, such as heavy pest pressure or unfavourable weather conditions.

5. Recent Advancements And Research In Biofertilizers & Biopesticides

Recent research and advancement in biofertilizers and biopesticides are focused on developing more effective and sustainable products and improving the delivery and application methods.

Here are some key recent developments in these fields.

How Biopesticides and Biofertilizers Can Help in Sustainable Agriculture
Source: Unsplash

5.1. Some Recent Advances & Research in Biofertilizers

  • Development of new biofertilizer strains: Researchers are continually isolating and characterizing new strains of beneficial microorganisms with enhanced plant growth-promoting properties. For example – Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras have developed a new strain of rhizobacteria that can boost crop yields by up to 20%. Amazing, right? 
  • Genetic engineering of biofertilizer strains: Scientists are also using genetic engineering to modify biofertilizer strains to make them more effective and easier to produce. Like recently, researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a genetically engineered strain of cyanobacteria that can produce nitrogen fertilizer directly from the air. Yeah, you read that right from the air! 
Biopesticides and Biofertilizers in Sustainable Agriculture!
Source: Unsplash
  • Nanotechnology 8to improve biofertilizer delivery: Nanotechnology is being used to develop new ways to deliver biofertilizers to plants, and these types of fertilizers are called Nanofertilizers -Scientists at the University of Florida have developed a nanocarrier system that can provide biofertilizer bacteria to plant roots more efficiently than traditional methods. 

5.2. Some Recent Advances & Research In Biopesticides

  • Development of new biopesticide formulations: Researchers are developing new biopesticide formulations that are more effective and easier to apply. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new biopesticide formulation that uses a combination of bacteria and fungi to control a wide range of pests.
  • Genetic engineering of biopesticide strains: Scientists are also using genetic engineering to modify them to make them more effective and specific in their targets. And guess what? Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a genetically engineered Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) strain that is more effective against mosquitoes.
Biopesticides and Biofertilizers in Sustainable Agriculture!
Source: Unsplash
  • Nanotechnology to improve biopesticide delivery: Nanotechnology is also being used to provide novel methods of delivering biopesticides to plants and pests. For example – scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a nanocarrier system that can provide biopesticides to the inside of insect cells.

These developments represent just a fraction of the ongoing research and innovation in biofertilizer and biopesticide research. These advances have the potential to revolutionize agriculture and make it more sustainable and environmentally friendly!

Biofertilizer Benefits for Soil Structure and Plant Growth

Matthew Wilson
Matthew Wilson

Biofertilizer’s Effect on the Soil Structure

  • Promotion of Beneficial Microorganisms: The fertilizers called biofertilizers help in growing beneficial soil microorganisms, which essentially are keys to promoting the condition of the soil. These microbes are producing agents such as polysaccharides and glomalin these are the most responsible factors for the formation of the soil aggregates.
  • Formation of Soil Aggregates: Organisms are the creators of the substances that maintain soil macro structures as well as soil structure and permeability they do achieve this. Enhanced soil structure supportive for water and nutrient uptake through better root development eventually has a direct impact on plant health and productivity.
  • Enhancing Soil Water-Holding Capacity: Biofertilizers that are used for agriculture cause an increase in water holding capacity of the soil thus reducing the amount of runoff and increasing moisture retention. Such practice improves soil fertility and makes productivity possible even as the soil erosion risk is minimized. 

Improving biofertilizer output on nutrient availability

  • Nitrogen Fixation: Certain types of biofertilizers carry bacteria that can convert nitrogen in the atmosphere to ammonia which is available for plants to utilize. This process fosters the natural occurrence of this element which ultimately leads to healthier plants and lowers the demand for nitrogen fertilizers. 
  • Phosphorus Solubilization: This class of biofertilizers is rich in microorganisms that can dissolve the phosphate rock thereby increasing its plant availability for plants. The phosphorus solubilizing bacteria release enzymes that hydrolyze and solubilize phosphates which are available to the plants for uptake. 
  • Slow-Release of Nutrients: Different from synthesized fertilizers, biofertilizers furnish nutrients at a slow rate to plants which is sustainable for steady growth. Sustainable nutrient management in this approach is achieved through the optimization of nutrient use by crops with a minimum leakage of nutrients.

Biofertilizers and their relevance to agriculture.

  • Seed Treatment: Biofertilizers or biological stimulants are sprayed at seeds or seedlings before sowing to ensure better germination and early growth. Rhizobial inoculants, a method mostly used in legumes, can be effectively applied to certain root crops that facilitate efficient nitrogen fixation.
  • Soil Application: A biofertilizer is characterized by a direct mixture with soil to enhance soil metabolic activity and fertility. With mycorrhizal fungi present in some biofertilizers, these act as symbionts of plant roots, leading to better absorption of nutrients in the plants and thus, good health.
  • Foliar Spray: Biofertilizers can be used through foliar application to enhance the amount of nutrients taken up by plants and the overall leaf wellness. P-solubilizing bacteria contained in biofertilizers play a part in the mobilization of phosphorus to free form which helps plant development and growth.
  • Crop-Specific Formulations: Through the process of biofertilizer development, each product is tailored to meet the nutrient needs of specific crops as well as the growth characteristics of said crops. Custom mixes are tailored for their nutrient supply and boost plant reactions, increasing the superior biofertilizer technologies towards each type of crop.

Matthew Wilson, CEO, Handy Gardeners

6. Final Words

Ultimately, I would say that the future of agriculture is bright, thanks in part to the development of biopesticides and biofertilizers.

These innovative products can play a vital role in transforming the agricultural landscape by enabling farmers to enhance their crop yields while minimizing the environmental impact.

While certain challenges are associated with adopting biopesticides and biofertilizers, such as – their relatively higher cost, limited availability in some regions, and the need for increased awareness among farmers, it’s essential to recognize that ongoing research and development efforts are addressing these issues. 

New strains, improved formulations & more efficient delivery systems are continually being developed, making these sustainable agricultural solutions more effective and cost-efficient.

By addressing these challenges and supporting sustainable agricultural practices, we can work together to create a world where everyone has access to safe, nutritious food and where agriculture coexists harmoniously with the environment. 

Embracing these sustainable solutions is a choice and a necessity for a brighter and more sustainable agricultural future!

Guest Author: Saket Kumar

Sources:

  1. Brahmaprakash, G. P., and Pramod Kumar Sahu. “Biofertilizers for sustainability.” Journal of the Indian Institute of Science 92.1 (2012): 37-62. ↩︎
  2. Seiber, James N., et al. “Biopesticides: state of the art and future opportunities.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 62.48 (2014): 11613-11619. ↩︎
  3. Whitton, Brian A., and Malcolm Potts. “Introduction to the cyanobacteria.” Ecology of cyanobacteria II: their diversity in space and time. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 2012. 1-13. ↩︎
  4. Wani, Sartaj A., Subhash Chand, and Tahir Ali. “Potential use of Azotobacter chroococcum in crop production: an overview.” Curr Agric Res J 1.1 (2013): 35-38. ↩︎
  5. Turnbull, Peter CB, J. M. Kramer, and J. Melling. “Bacillus.” Medical microbiology 4 (1996): 233. ↩︎
  6. Raper, Kenneth Bryan, and Dorothy I. Fennell. “The genus Aspergillus.” The genus Aspergillus. (1965). ↩︎
  7. Nelson, Mark E., and Analiza P. Alves. “Plant incorporated protectants and insect resistance.” Insect resistance management. Academic Press, 2014. 99-147. ↩︎
  8. McNeil, Scott E. “Nanotechnology for the biologist.” Journal of leukocyte biology 78.3 (2005): 585-594. ↩︎

Last Updated on by Saket Kumar

Author

  • ashutoshrana0415

    Ashutosh is a versatile and talented writer who covers a wide range of topics, from news and sports to gaming and entertainment. He has been writing for over three years, delivering high-quality and engaging content to the readers. He is passionate about Canada and its culture, and enjoys writing about its cities, immigration, destinations, economy, business, and lifestyle. Ashutosh is always keen to learn new things and explore new perspectives as a writer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *