Need for efficient crop uptake of phosphorous

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Trevor Thiessen, president, Novozymes BioAg, gives a perspective on phosphate fertilizer use in growing crops and how there has to be a goal of improving availability of phosphorous to crops, which the company does with some of its current products.

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Kentucky  |  August, 15, 2012 at 06:39 PM

This video is a representation of the problem. He simply doesn't know, and he is a spokesperson for the industry. Phosphorus is a finite resource and its a quickly limiting one at that, he is also correct. What the problem with this this video is the same as with the majority of the way the problem is broken down as well as approached. Phosphorus is being mined, processed and industrially bonded to stabilization elements and/or molecules, most notably ammonia. These bonds are designed to be easily broken once applied to the soil... be it by rain, microbes, the plants themselves, etc. Once the bonds have been broken, the phosphorus as an element 'wants' to bind to other things. These (usually ammonia) bonds are intentionally weak. Once they are broken, what the plant and the soil microbiology doesn't take into itself binds with other elements/molecules in the soil. The bonds formed during this are much much more difficult (if not downright impossible) for the plant to break. Thus, the phosphorus becomes unavailable to the plant. It also makes the phosphorus very 'stablily' unavailable to the plant. Permanently 'locked' into the soil. Microbes, and esp the proper microbe make up in the soil, can break down these phosphorus bonds and make the phosphorus available again to the plants. There is well over 50 years of phosphorus already in most of our (USA's) farmland. Its been added there for decades. It needs to be released, unlocked from its molecular cages and made available to the plants. This is talked about in a youtube video titled "Farmer Benefits 1 of 2". I highly recommend watching it.

Kentucky  |  August, 15, 2012 at 10:21 PM

(I ran out of characters... which one would normally take as a sign to shut up... but, since no one will ever read this anyway...) The way to break the bonds that the phosphorus makes after it breaks away from the bonding-agent used during fertilizer application is with microbes. Over the past 50+ years, phosphorus has been continually applied. It isn't that the phosphorus has gone anywhere and isn't available in the soils, its that the phosphorus has become non-bio-available to the plants due to its new bonding partners. The best way to break these bonds is with microbes. During the video above, the part on phosphorus (and peak-phosphorus) is brought up because the product being discussed during the video (SumaGrow) contains over 50 strains of microbes.. all of which are nitrogen fixing bacteria, but four of which are phosphorus-"free'ers"... meaning, they consume the molecules that contain phosphorus in the soil and process them such that in their excrement, the phosphorus is no longer bonded to the other things. Or it remains in the microbe and, once the microbe dies and decomposes, it becomes 'bioavailable' to the plants roots... or, obviously, it will eventually bond with other molecules/elements in the soil until another microbe comes and frees it. I'm not pushing the specific product from SumaGrow as much as I'm pushing the technology, but I'm sure Novozymes's CEO is fully aware of this. The phosphorus doesn't need to be added to the soil, more than enough already exists in the soil. It simply needs to be freed, by adding microbes that free it and make it bioavailable to the plants. Not peak phosphorus, just bad practices and under advertised products.

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