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Biofertilizers: A tool for minimising climate change

One of the major concerns in today’s world is the pollution and contamination of soil. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has caused an incredible harm to the environment. A solution to this is the biofertilizer, an environmental-friendly fertilizer now used in most countries. Biofertilizers are organisms that enrich the nutrient quality of soil. 
Biofertilizer is still an unclear term. Biofertilizer is most commonly referred to the use of soil microorganisms to increase the availability and uptake of mineral nutrients for plants. So it is necessary to define the term “Biofertilizer”. It can be  defined  as a substance  which  contains living  microorganisms which  colonizes  the  rhizosphere or  the  interior of  the plant and promotes growth by increasing the supply or availability of primary nutrient and/or growth stimulus to the target crop, when applied to seed, plant surfaces, or soil.
Biofertilizers are known to play a vital role in specially soil fertility, crop yields and agriculture by fixing atmospheric nitrogen both in association with plant roots and without it. Biofertilizers are eco-friendly organic agro-inputs which are more cost effective than chemical fertilizers. It adds nutrients through the natural processes of nitrogen fixation, solubilizing phosphorus and stimulating plant growth through synthesis of growth promoting substances.
Biofertilizers are compounds of organic matter that are applied to crops for growth and health. Their constituent micro-organisms biologically interact with the soil, root and seed of plants, promoting the growth of micro-flora that enhances soil fertility. 
As chemical fertilizers cause a deterioration of the soil vitality over time, biofertilizers are attractive alternatives, benefiting both harvests and soil.
Benefits of Biofertilizers: Biofertilizers are the most advanced bio technology necessary to support developing organic, sustainable and green agriculture. They can increase the output, by improving both quality and quantity of the produce. There are many benefits to using this safe and relatively inexpensive product. 
It produces a healthier crop and promotes subsistence farming
Biofertilizers are an environmental friendly substitute for harmful chemical fertilizers
Replace chemical nitrogen and phosphorus by 25 per cent
Increase crop yield by 20-30 per cent
Biofertilizers can reduce expenses by replacing the cost of chemical fertilizers especially regarding nitrogen and phosphorus
They transform organic matter into nutrients that can be used to make plants healthy and productive
Activate the soil biologically and restore natural soil fertility
Provide protection against drought and some soil borne diseases
Why should we use biofertilizers?
With the introduction of green revolution technologies the modern agriculture is getting more and more dependent upon the steady supply of synthetic inputs. But the main problems associated with fertilizers. Gradually chemical fertilizers started displaying their ill-effects such as leaching out and polluting water basins, destroying micro-organisms and friendly insects, making the crop more susceptible to the attack of diseases, reducing the soil fertility and thus causing irreparable damage to the overall system. Adverse effects are being noticed due to the excessive and imbalanced use of these synthetic inputs. 
This situation has led to identifying harmless inputs like biofertilizers. Use of such natural products like biofertilizers in crop cultivation will help in safeguarding the soil health and also the quality of crop products. The natural products lying around farms can be turned into biofertilizers and used to make healthy and abundant crops.
Precautions for using biofertilizers:
Right combinations of biofertilizers have to be used
As Rhizobium is crop specific, one should use for the specified crop only
Other chemicals (chemical fertilizers or fungicides) should not be mixed with the biofertilizers
They need to be stored in cool and dry place away from direct sunlight and heat
Biofertilizers are not replacement of fertilizers but can supplement plant nutrient requirements
Using biofertilizers benefits both the environment and its practitioners. You too can save money, increase crop output and help the environment by switching to biofertilizers today!
The writers are associated with the Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan. They can be reached at salmanagrarian@yahoo.com
 

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