Our food – Microbes and the future of agriculture

Just as the bacterial colonies in our body is so important to human health, so it is with plants who also have an intimate and co-dependent relationship with microbes. Plants, like animals, are not autonomous organisms but rather are populated by a cornucopia of diverse microorganisms. The sheer quantity and variety of bacteria found inside plants is nothing short of remarkable, as the studies referenced below will testify. This microbial zoo is equivalent to the human microbiome. The key to healthy plants is healthy microbiomes. Recognising and taking care of these bacterial colonies, which include both the bacteria living inside as well as outside the plant, have led to increased yields. Giving plants chemical fertilizers is like force feeding the plant, and over time may even lead to the dependence of the plant for its survival on these chemicals, reducing its ability to harness the work of its natural bacterial colonies.

The beneficial impact of chemical fertilizers powering our agricultural revolution the last century is unquestionable. The world’s food population is estimated to fall by 48% without chemical fertilizers.

Herein lies the crunch. The extended use of fertilisers has also caused massive environmental problems – contaminating ground water, leading to algae blooms of massive proportions in lakes and the sea, causing hugh damage to the ecosystems of plants and animals that we also depend on. There are also the questions on sustainability: ammonia production mainly for fertilizers consume 3% of the world’s energy; the industrial manufacture of nitrogen consumes another 2%. A small proportion of chemical fertilizer also decomposes to nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is 300 times more potent than CO₂.

As large a problem is the health impact of chemicals driven farming entering our food chain. And recent understanding of plant microbiomes has shown the damage done to the natural plant immune systems through the damage to the plant microbiomes, necessitating the increased use of pesticides and fungicides. Picture our food plants requiring wheelchairs and grown in plant hospitals!

Nitrogen fixing microbes have been known to be found in specialised root structures, but then in 1988 another microbe that does the same was found in the sap of sugarcane. Thus began the study of the microbiome of plants and the bacteria colonies in internal plant tissue, in addition to those colonies in external surfaces and in the soil rhizosphere.

“Plants colonised with endophytes (microbes living inside them) are typically more resistant to abiotic stresses like cold [and heat stress, drought and salinity] and biotic stresses like other pathogenic microorganisms [leading to plant diseases]”, says Frank Takken, a plant scientist at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Read: Plants’ Bacterial Zoos, Chemistry World - Anthony King, 4 January 2018, (you may have to do a simple registration with the Royal Society of Chemistry): https://www.chemistryworld.com/feature/the-plant-microbiome/3008377.article

Please also refer to the article on How manipulating the plant microbiome could improve agriculture. Published in THE SCIENTIST, Davide Bulgarelli, Feb 1, 2018. https://www.the-scientist.com/features/how-manipulating-the-plant-microbiome-could-improve-agriculture-30124

Understanding this co-dependent relationship, keeps plants healthy and increases farm productivity. Helping plants acquire beneficial bacteria, keeping their good bacteria healthy, and providing an environment favourable for the good bacteria – healthy good bacterial colonies will muscle out the bad bacteria, as they thrive in different environmental conditions. These can now be achieved using natural Nutribiotics Farming. a fully natural and holistic plant growth and plant health farming system that reduces stress on plants caused by the extended use of chemical fertilizers, and the added costs of pesticides, fungicides, soil conditioners, micro- and macro-nutrients.

This is the future of agriculture – holistic solutions to farm productivity and the production of more nutritious, tasty and wholesome foods, all drug and chemical-free.

KLOSS & Associates has the solutions for the sustainable development of agriculture using Nutribiotics as a farming system, and the development of integrated farming ecosystems. Contact us for further discussions.