Environmental concerns and the cost of extracting traditional fertilizers mean that the current model is increasingly precarious. For over 100 years, agriculture has relied on the Haber-Bosch process to manufacture ammonia for NPK fertilizers. Can technology respond to our changing needs?
Traditionally, agriculture relied upon manure, composting, and rotation to maintain soil fertility. More recently, no-till practices and the use of other trace minerals have been embraced, but it is not enough. Now, innovators are entering the market with biologicals to help plants to create and capture the nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium they need.
Live or latent microbial cells, which enrich the soil with nutrients and provide advantageous conditions for nutrient uptake and plant performance at the root, are part of the move to biologicals. Unlike traditional fertilizers, which provide NPK to the plants and soil, they rely on living microbes to develop symbiotic relationships in the rhizosphere (area of root growth) or within the plant. The categories of biologicals are nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium.
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