Farmers try microbes instead of fertilizer

Every organic gardener knows that compost is much better for plants than inorganic fertilizers. The compost is carefully made by combining “browns” (high-carbon fibrous ingredients like fallen leaves) with “greens” (high-nitrogen ingredients like animal manure, green grass clippings, etc.) then waiting as microbial growth heats the pile. After turning and aerating for a few weeks, the rich, brown compost is teeming with soil and absorbs water like a sponge. It’s great for plants since the tilth of the soil is improved and the balance of nutrients is perfect for the plants.

People have been using these techniques since time immemorial.

Factory-scale mechanized farming is less conducive to this labor-intensive, time-consuming process. Large machinery distributes concentrated chemicals which provide nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to huge fields. This has provided high yields which feed the increasing population. The downside is gradual destruction of soil fertility and tilth and pollution of ground water and eventually ocean dead zones.

Russia is a huge exporter of chemical fertilizer. The sanctions on Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine is driving up the price.…

**Record Fertilizer Prices Drive Investors, Farmers to Microbes**
**Startups pitch alternative fertilizers for crops as a cheaper and more environmentally friendly option**
**By Patrick Thomas and Amrith Ramkumar, The Wall Street Journal, Apr. 30, 2022**

**Startups marketing alternative crop fertilizers said they are gaining traction among U.S. farmers and investors, pitching themselves as a potentially cheaper option as prices for traditional [chemical] fertilizers surge....**

**Companies such as Pivot Bio, Kula Bio and Anuvia are pushing development of farm fertilizers by harnessing microbes or plant-based products to deliver nutrients that corn and other crops need. They aim to replace traditional fertilizers produced from natural gas [ammonia-based nitrogen fertilizers] or mined underground [phosphate and potassium], prices of which have hit records this year due to supply-chain constraints and Russia’s war on Ukraine....**

**Pivot develops microbes that can be applied to fertilize crops.... Traditional [chemical] fertilizer makers said microbe-based alternatives are promising but can’t fully replace existing products. While emerging alternatives can offset some nitrogen-based fertilizers, they don’t replicate others such as potash and phosphate...** [end quote]

Many industrial sectors, such as factory farming, produce gigantic amounts of waste material (animal manures) that could be used as fertilizer if only there was a way of transforming it and transporting it in the forms and quantities the factory farms need. Part of the problem of any biological-based process is that the majority of the mixture is water which must be separated eventually. That’s why algae-based fuels are not economically feasible.

I hope that the new microbe-based fertilizers find a use, perhaps in organic farming.

As a home gardener, I get best results from a combination of compost and Miracle Grow which contains many trace micronutrients as well as the standard N-P-K formulation.



We had a thread on nitrogen fixing bacteria for corn back in January on the Climate Change board–…

Corteva is said to be a player.


While I didn’t post there, occasionally lurking, on the Climate Change board, it’s irritating to have it closed as the financial impacts, problems, solutions are going to impact all of our investments… Sad choices were made… Serious choices in our futures…

The Renewable Energy board is still open. Most Climate Change discussions are moving there.

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The Renewable Energy board is still open. Most Climate Change discussions are moving there.

Some fair bit of discussion about Climate Change is directly relevant to METAR, so I expect this board to host some of the discussions that used to be on that board.

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I hope that the new microbe-based fertilizers find a use, perhaps in organic farming.


Dairy farmers in Northern California regularly spread their collected liquid cow manure on their pastures to enrich the soil. We smell it for miles around. We have organic everything in Northern California.


Can pee help feed the world?…
“Go pee on the rhubarb!” Engineer Fabien Esculier has never forgotten his grandmother’s unconventional approach to gardening — in fact, it has inspired his career.

Human urine may seem like a crude way of fertilising plants in the era of industrial agriculture, but as researchers look for ways to reduce reliance on chemicals and cut environmental pollution, some are growing increasingly interested in the potential of pee.

Plants need nutrients — nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium — and we ingest these through food, before “excreting them, mostly through urine”, said Esculier, who runs the OCAPI research programme in France looking at food systems and human waste management. This presents an opportunity, scientists think.


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Can pee help feed the world?

Pee, Poo, Pah!

Night soil is a historically used euphemism for human excreta collected from cesspools, privies, pail closets, pit latrines, privy middens, septic tanks, etc. This material was removed from the immediate area, usually at night, by workers employed in this trade. Sometimes it could be transported out of towns and sold on as a fertilizer.

In One End and Out the Burner
OCT 10, 2008

Of all the peoples of the world, the Chinese are probably the most at home with their excrement. They know its value. For 4,000 years they have used raw human feces to fertilize fields. China’s use of “night soil,” as the Chinese rightly call a manure that is collected after dark, is probably the reason that its soils are still healthy after four millennia of intensive agriculture, while other great civilizations—the Maya, for one—floundered when their soils turned to dust.…

The modern term is ‘recycling!’

The Captain

BTW, if you use sheep to cut your grass they will fertilize it as part of the bargain.…


BTW, if you use sheep to cut your grass they will fertilize it as part of the bargain.

I don’t know about sheep, but if you don’t pick up dog feces from your lawn you’ll end up with ‘burn’ spots. Too much fertilizer?


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BTW, if you use sheep to cut your grass they will fertilize it as part of the bargain.

Riding lawnmower for sale……

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