The Plant Microbiome and the Rise of Biologicals

The fact that microorganisms can play an important role in crop growth and yield is not a new concept. Plants are colonized by a wide diversity of microorganisms that live both on and inside plant tissue; a community of organisms referred to as the microbiome. Leguminous crops, such as alfalfa or soybeans, actually receive a significant portion of nitrogen from the microorganisms that colonize the roots. In return, these microorganisms receive organic acids from the plants as a source of carbon and energy.

Research has demonstrated several beneficial effects that microbes can provide in crop plants:

  • Nitrogen Fixation
  • Abiotic Stress Tolerance
  • Improved Plant Health and Function
  • Nutrient Uptake and Availability
  • Disease Suppression

“We have to make sure we’re managing resources like fertilizers and nutrients in order to pass on a better field for the next generation,” said Matt Montgomery, Pioneer Field Agronomist. “We also have to be conscious of these decisions while we continue to feed billions of people.”

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The need for sustainable solutions in agricultural production and the pressure to drive gains in crop yield and resilience in the coming years will continue to fuel growth in microbiome research and microbial products.

These needs have led to a rapid increase of microbial products in the crop input marketplace, such as biostimulants, biopesticides, and other biological products that offer the potential to improve crop health and yield by influencing the composition of the crop microbiome.