Oct 2, 2010

BENEFICIAL EFFECTS OF MICROORGANISMS IN THE FIELD OF AGRICULTURE

Agriculture in a broad sense, is not an enterprise which leaves everything to nature without intervention. Rather it is a human activity in which the farmer attempts to integrate certain agroecological factors and production inputs for optimum crop and livestock production. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that farmers should be interested in ways and means of controlling beneficial soil microorganisms as an important component of the agricultural environment.
Nevertheless, this idea has often been rejected by naturalists and proponents of nature farming and organic agriculture. They argue that beneficial soil microorganisms will increase naturally when organic amendments are applied to soils as carbon, energy and nutrient sources. This indeed may be true where an abundance of organic materials are readily available for recycling which often occurs in small-scale farming. However, in most cases, soil microorganisms, beneficial or harmful, have often been controlled advantageously when crops in various agroecological zones are grown and cultivated in proper sequence (i.e., crop rotations) and without the use of pesticides. Most would agree that a basic rule of agriculture is to ensure that specific crops are grown according to their agroclimatic and agroecological requirements. However, in many cases the agricultural economy is based on market forces that demand a stable supply of food, and thus, it becomes necessary to use farmland to its full productive potential throughout the year.

Actually crop growth and development are closely related to the nature of the soil microflora, especially those in close proximity to plant roots, i.e., the rhizosphere. Thus, it will be difficult to overcome the limitations of conventional agricultural technologies without controlling soil microorganisms. This particular tenet is further reinforced because the evolution of most forms of life on earth and their environments are sustained by microorganisms. Most biological activities are influenced by the state of these invisible, minuscule units of life. Therefore, to significantly increase food production, it is essential to develop crop cultivars with improved genetic capabilities (i.e., greater yield potential, disease resistance, and nutritional quality) and with a higher level of environmental competitiveness, particularly under stress conditions (i.e., low rainfall, high temperatures, nutrient deficiencies, and agressive weed growth). To enhance the concept of controlling and utilizing beneficial microorganisms for crop production and protection, one must harmoniously integrate the essential components for plant growth and yield including light (intensity, photoperiodicity and quality), carbon dioxide, water, nutrients (organic-inorganic) soil type, and the soil microflora. Because of these vital interrelationships, it is possible to envision a new technology and a more energy-efficient system of biological production.

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