Miranda Hart, who teaches biology at UBC’s Okanagan campus, says despite a decades-long practice, there could be environmental consequences of adding bio-fertilizers into soil. It’s common practice for farmers to use bio-fertilizers as a method to improve crop production. These added microorganisms will live in the soil, creating a natural and healthy growing environment.
However, after a multi-year study on four different crop fields, Hart says the inoculants may not be doing much for the soil. The study, which involved researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, was published recently in Science of The Total Environment.
“There are so many companies producing microbes and they are lobbying farmers to be part of a green revolution,” says Hart. “These products are considered more environmentally friendly than fertilizers and pesticides, but there is no evidence they are working or that they are even able to establish, or grow, in the soil.”
Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi live in and around plant roots, helping the plants take up nutrients. Hart explains that many farmers will use commercially produced AM fungi to improve soil quality and increase yields. However, after the study, she says there is still little evidence that the inoculants work.
“It’s very hard to determine if the microbes established in the soil,” she says. “What we showed is that they often didn’t establish. And even when they did, there was no difference in crop performance.”
Source: Do additives help the soil?