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Bio-Fertilizers better source for protection and production of crops
M. Mithal Jiskani
Assistant Professor (Plant Pathology)
Faculty of Crop Protection, Sindh Agriculture University Tandojam

“It is estimated that one billion people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition. That's roughly 100 times as many as those who actually die from these causes each year. About 24,000 people die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes. This is down from 35,000 ten years ago, and 41,000 twenty years ago. Three-fourths of the deaths are children under the age of five. Famine and wars cause about 10% of hunger deaths, although these tend to be the ones you hear about most often. The majority of hunger deaths are caused by chronic malnutrition. Families facing extreme poverty are simply unable to get enough food to eat” (

In order to increase crop production for fulfillment of malnutrition requirements of the day by day increasing population, the systems is relying exclusively on the use of chemical fertilizers. Whereas, it is also proved that use of chemical fertilizers and other pesticides has caused tremendous harm to the environment by pollution and contamination in water and soil and common men are suffering by many means, because of the situation. Therefore, increase in population, environmental pollution, contamination in water and soil is the major concerns in today's world and there is a reason to search for alternative methods of increasing plant production in an eco-friendly manner, the adequate management of natural, renewable resources and the reduction of chemical inputs.

No doubt, all chemical fertilizers support the plant growth and development, that results higher production, hence are beneficial if used judiciously, but it is also very true that the bio-fertilizers are totally safe, now used in most of the countries because of their environmentally friendly fertilizer property.

Actually, bio fertilizers are 100% natural and organic fertilizers that enrich the nutrient quality of soil. Bio-fertilizers are organisms that help to provide and keep in the soil all the nutrients and microorganisms required for the benefits of the plants ( The bacteria, fungi and blue-green algae (cynobacteria) are the main sources of bio-fertilizers. Symbiosis of these organisms with plants is the most striking relationship, in which the partners derive benefits from each other, without any damage/hazards. The disease causing organisms (pathogenic bacteria, fungi etc) are totally different to that of those which are non-pathogenic and are used in bio-fertilizers.

The plants and trees (crops and fruit orchards) have a number of relationships with fungi, bacteria, and algae, the most common of which are with mycorrhiza, rhizobium, and cyanophyceae. These are known to deliver a number of benefits including plant nutrition, disease resistance, and tolerance to adverse soil and climatic conditions. These techniques have proved to be successful bio-fertilizers that form a health relationship with the roots.

Bio-fertilizers are the most advanced bio technology can increase the output, improve the quality and it is responsible for agriculture environment. Bio-fertilizers are necessary to support developing organic agriculture, sustainable agriculture, green agriculture and non-pollution agriculture.

Bio-fertilizers contain a wide range of naturally chelated plant nutrients and trace elements, carbohydrates, amino acids and other growth promoting substances; acts as a soil conditioner by stimulating microbial activity in the soil which results in improved air-water relationships in soil, improved fertility and makes soil less prone to compaction and erosion. The researchers and growers, regularly using bio-fertilizers in their fertility program reported increases in yield, quality, shelf-life and resistance to environmental stresses such as drought, extreme heat, early frost, pest and disease problems.

Wu et al. (2005) evaluated the effects of four biofertilizers containing an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (Glomus mosseae or Glomus intraradices) with or without N-fixer (Azotobacter chroococcum), P solubilizer (Bacillus megaterium) and K solubilizer (Bacillus mucilaginous) on soil properties and the growth of Zea mays. They reported that bio-fertilizer has been identified as an alternative to chemical fertilizer to increase soil fertility and crop production in sustainable farming. This greenhouse study also indicated that the application of biofertilizer containing mycorrhizal fungus and three species of bacteria significantly increased the growth of Z. mays. The use of biofertilizer (G. mosseae and three bacterial species) resulted in the highest biomass and seedling height. This was also observed that half the amount of biofertilizer application had similar effects when compared with organic fertilizer or chemical fertilizer treatments. Microbial inoculum not only increased the nutritional assimilation of plant (total N, P and K), but also improved soil properties, such as organic matter content and total N in soil. The arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) had a higher root infection rate in the presence of bacterial inoculation. By contrast, the AMF seemed to have an inhibiting effect on the P-solubilizing bacteria. The nutrient deficiency in soil resulted in a larger population of N-fixing bacteria and higher colonization of AMF.
Kumar et al. (2005) isolated broad-spectrum antagonistic fluorescent pseudomonad strain PUPa3 from the rhizosphere soil of rice and identified as Pseudomonas aeruginosa on the basis of biochemical tests and by comparison of 16S rDNA sequences and studied its antifungal activity and plant beneficial traits. They reported that the antifungal metabolite produced by PUPa3 has been identified as phenazine-1-carboxamide (PCN) on the basis of NMR and MS data. Strain PUPa3 showed a broad-spectrum antifungal activity towards a range of phytopathogenic fungi. This bacterium also showed several plant growth-promoting traits but did not show the traits attributed to deleterious rhizobacteria. Present study also reports the production of PCN as well as IAA by a saprophytic P. aeruginosa strain PUPa3. Because of the production of siderophore, growth hormone, protease and phosphatase and its innate fungicidal potential, this strain can be used as biofertilizer and antagonist against a range of phytopathogenic fungi that infect rice, groundnut, tobacco, chili, mango, sugarcane, tea, cotton and banana.

Nuruzzaman, et al. (2003) investigated the effect of biofertilizers on morpho-physiological characters of okra applying nine treatments such as T0 (control), T1 (Azotobacterf biofertilizer), T2 ( Azospirillum biofertilizer), T3 ( Azotobacter+ Azospirillum biofertilizers), T4 ( Azotobacter+Cowdung 5 t ha-1), T5 ( Azospirillum+5 t ha-1 cowdung), T6 ( Azotobacter+ Azospirillum+5 t ha-1 cowdung), T7 (5 t ha-1 cowdung), and T8 (60% N). The experimental results revealed significant variations among the treatments in respect of morphological characters. Number of leaves per plant, stem base diameter, root length, root dry weight, leaf area index, and crop growth rate were larger in T4, T5, T6, and T8 than the others. In all the parameters, T8 gave the similar result with biofertilizers in combination with cowdung treatments, and T7 was identical with T0 (control). These experimental results revealed that morpho-physiological characters of okra could be modified by the application of biofertilizer+cowdung. However, biofertilizers+cowdung treatments were comparable to T8 (60% N) in this study. This suggests that T4 or T6 or T5 were more beneficial in environmentally friendly okra cultivation and may be used as an alternative of inorganic N by saving cost of production and sustaining productivity.

Ozturk, et al. (2003) studied the yield response of a wheat (Kirik) and a barley (Tokak 157/37) cultivar to inoculation with Azospirillum brasilense sp. 246 and Bacillus sp. OSU-142 in relation to three levels of N fertilization (0, 40, and 80 kg ha-1) under field conditions. Seed inoculation with A. brasilense Sp246 significantly affected yield and yield components, both in wheat and barley. On average of years and N doses, inoculation with A. brasilense Sp246 increased spike number per m2, grain number per spike, grain yield, and crude protein content by 7.2, 5.9, 14.7, and 4.1% in wheat and by 6.6, 8.1, 17.5, and 5.1% in barley, respectively, as compared to control. Inoculation with Bacillus sp. OSU-142 significantly increased kernel number per spike in wheat, but no significant effect was determined in the other characteristics. Grain yields and yield components were also higher at all levels of nitrogen fertilizer in the inoculated plots as compared to the control. However, these increases diminished at high fertilizer levels. These results suggest that application of the growth promoting bacteria A. brasilense Sp246 may have the potential to be used as a biofertilizer for spring wheat and barley cultivation in organic and low-N input agriculture.

Topoliantz, et al. (2002) conducted a biofertilizer application assay for testing the effects of three different organic amendments (manioc peels, sawdust and wood charcoal) and the inoculation of the endogeic earthworm Pontoscolex corethrurus on pod production of Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis and on soil chemical properties (pH, C, N, total and exchangeable P and K). Pod production was highest with manioc peels as available P increased in the soil. Wood charcoal also had a beneficial effect on pod production as it decreased acidity and increased the C: N ratio in the soil. In sawdust-amended soil, pod production did not differ from that in unamended soil. Inoculation of earthworms at a density of 80 sub-adults m-2 did not significantly affect either pod production or soil nutrient content directly, although it increased the positive effect of manioc peels on pod production. Soil nutrient content, pod production and earthworm density at the end of the experiment were negatively correlated with soil moisture and positively with each other. Despite the strong effect of moisture, this assay demonstrated an interaction between the earthworm P. corethrurus and the legume V. unguiculata sesquipedalis mediated by soil nutrient content and organic matter inputs. We conclude that manioc peels improved soil P availability and were an interesting amendment for legume crops.

Bloemberg and Lugtenberg (2001) used plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPRs) as inoculants for biofertilizer application, phytostimulation and biocontrol and reported that the interactions of PGPRs with their biotic environment, for example with plants and microorganisms, are often complex. Substantial advances in elucidating the genetic basis of the beneficial effects of PGPRs on plants have been made, some from whole-genome sequencing projects. It emphasizes developments in the field of microbial control of phytopathogenic fungi.

Jeyabal and Kuppuswamy (2001) reported that investigations were made to recycle agricultural and agro-industrial wastes for the production of vermicompost using earthworms (Eudrilus eugeniae), in a rice-legume (black gram) cropping. The study showed that the integrated application of vermicompost, fertilizer N and biofertilizers viz., Azospirillum and phosphobacteria increased rice yield by 15.9% over application with fertilizer N alone. The integrated application of 50% N through vermicompost, 50% via fertilizer N and biofertilizers recorded a grain yield of 6.25 and 0.51 t ha-1 in the rice and legume, respectively. These yields were 12.2 and 19.9% higher than those obtained with 100% fertilizer N alone. On average, integrated application increased the N, P and K uptake by 15.3, 10.7 and 9.4%, respectively in rice over fertilizer N alone. Organic carbon content in the residual soil after rice was not depleted due to integrated application. The studies indicate that integrated nutrition comprising vermicompost, fertilizers N and biofertilizers could be applied to rice-legume cropping system to achieve higher yields and sustain soil health.

Galal et al. (2000) studied the potential of biofertilizers, when the quantities of commercial fertilizers were reduced, for optimal wheat production. N fertilizer was applied in three treatments with one control, i.e. zero, full, half and one-quarter rates, in the presence or absence of inocula. Azospirillum brasilense strain Sp245 was used as a biofertilizer. Generally, inoculation increased the accumulation of shoot dry matter and grain yield by about 35%, relative to the control treatment. Similar trends were observed in the case of N and P uptake by shoots and grains, as well as the efficient use of both, where inoculation increased the acquisition of the two elements as compared with the uninoculated plants. The obtained data showed that N2 fixed by shoots and grains ranged from 2 to 10 kg N ha-1 and from 8 to 19 kg N ha-1, respectively. With respect to fixed N2, the best treatment was inoculation combined with the one-fourth dose of N, followed by inoculation combined with half of the recommended N dose. Most of the fixed N was utilized by grains and the results clearly reflected the negative effect of high N fertilizer rates on biological N fixation. It is obvious that inoculation, in general, enhanced the N fertilizer utilized by both shoots and grains of wheat plants. In conclusion, the application of biofertilization technology to a coarse-textured soil with low fertility had a positive effect on plant growth, N gained from the air and enhancement of fertilizer N uptake (apparent recovery fraction).

Victor and Reuben (2000) studied the effects of nitrogenous (inorganic) fertilizers, organic manures and blue-green algae (BGA) biofertilizer on mosquito populations (Diptera: Culicidae) in Oryza sativa fields, with particular attention to Culex vishnui, C. pseudovishnui and C. tritaeniorhynchus. The application of urea, a nitrogenous fertilizer, in rice fields significantly increased the grain yield and the population densities of mosquito larvae and pupae (anophelines as well as culicines) in a dose-related manner. Fields treated with inorganic fertilizers (N, P, K) had significantly higher population densities of mosquito immatures than fields treated with organic manures (farmyard manure and green manure). Without nitrogenous fertilizer, BGA increased paddy yield without enhancing mosquito production. Therefore, the use of BGA with less nitrogenous fertilizer is recommended, which is beneficial economically and agronomically to the farming community and also significantly reduces mosquito production in rice fields.

According to reports, bio-fertilizers contain a variety of beneficial micro-organisms and enzymes which accelerates and improves plant growth and prevent plants from pests and diseases. Completely fermented organic matters, present in bio-fertilizers improve the physical properties of soils, enrich air aeration, water and nutrients retention capacity and reduce acidity. Considerable amount of 3 major elements such as N, P, K, Mg and trace elements increases fertilizer efficiency in soil as well as minimize leaching due to rainfall. The hardpans problems in soil due to excessive application of agrochemicals and chemical fertilizer also overcome and health and hardiness in a wide variety of plants also improved with bio-fertilizers, by supplying the beneficial microorganisms, humic acid and organic fungi and actinomyces, humic and fulvic acids to the plant root zone.

The beneficial microorganisms present in bio-fertilizers reduce plant stress and disease by competing with plant pathogens; whereas, humic acid is a plant bio-stimulant and can increase soil fertility, enhance mocrobial activity and reduce water evaporation.

Bio-fertilizers provide both the macro as well as micro nutrients, required for healthy growth. Therefore, improves yields and the quality of agricultural crops, reduces the overall cost of fertilizer and the number and type of pesticide sprays, based on yield, because increased plant vigor and a greater resistance to disease, insect attack and frost due to increased protein, found within the plant.

Bio-fertilizers are free of unpleasant odors, is a naturally balanced complete plant food, improved seed germination and thicker root development, increased bloom set, size of flowers and fruit and the storage life of fruits and vegetables by retarding the loss of protein, chlorophyll and RNA in produce.

Now a day, bio-fertilizers are widely used in several countries with excellent results in all kinds of plants and trees. The studies on all concerned aspects are still needed in Pakistan, however, there is a dire need to make availabilities of bio-fertilizers and transfer technology to the growers at their door step, whatever has been done locally.


Bloemberg, G. V. and B. J. J. Lugtenberg, 2001. Molecular basis of plant growth promotion and biocontrol by rhizobacteria. Current Opinion in Plant Biology, 4 (4): 343-350

Galal, Y. G. M., I. A. El-Ghandour, S. S. Aly, S. Soliman and A. Gadalla, 2000. Non-isotopic method for the quantification of biological nitrogen fixation and wheat production under field conditions. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 32 (1): 47-51

Jeyabal, A. and G. Kuppuswamy, 2001. Recycling of organic wastes for the production of vermicompost and its response in rice-legume cropping system and soil fertility. European Journal of Agronomy, 15 (3): 153-170

Kumar, R. S., N. Ayyadurai, P. Pandiaraja, A.V. Reddy, Y. Venkateswarlu, O. Prakash and N. Sakthivel, 2005. Characterization of antifungal metabolite produced by a new strain Pseudomonas aeruginosa PUPa3 that exhibits broad-spectrum antifungal activity and biofertilizing traits. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 98 (1): 145-154

Nuruzzaman, M., M. Ashrafuzzaman, M. Z. Islam and M. R. Islam, 2003. Field efficiency of biofertilizers on the growth of okra (Abelmoschus esculentus [(L.) Moench]). Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, 166 (6): 764-770

Ozturk, A. and O. Caglar, 2003. Yield response of wheat and barley to inoculation of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria at various levels of nitrogen fertilization. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, 166 (2): 262-266

Topoliantz, S., J. F. Ponge, D. Arrouays, S. Ballof and P. Lavelle, 2002. Effect of organic manure and the endogeic earthworm Pontoscolex corethrurus (Oligochaeta: Glossoscolecidae) on soil fertility and bean production. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 36 (4): 313-319

Victor, T. J. and R. Reuben, 2000. Effects of organic and inorganic fertilizers on mosquito populations in rice fields of southern India. Medical and Veterinary Entomology, 14 (4): 361-368

Wu, S. C., Z. H. Cao, Z. G. Li, K. C. Cheung and M. H. Wong, 2005. Effects of biofertilizer containing N-fixer, P and K solubilizers and AM fungi on maize growth: a greenhouse trial. Geoderma, 125 (1/2): 155-166;

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