We all know that the global population is increasing, and by 2050 we will require an increase of agricultural yields by 70-100% to be able to feed the world. But there is limited arable land, and in some places agricultural practices are far from sustainable.
Theoretically, if all farmers could achieve the highest attainable yield — worldwide crop production would rise by 45-70%. The yield losses come from inadequate fertilizer or water, or by losses to pests or disease. A study by Oerke in 2006 reported yield reductions of up to 50-80% without crop protection intervention. However, vast increases in use of fertilizers, water, and pesticides are not only economically impractical, but would have many negative environmental consequences. (Read more)
Scientists have reported that Earth has lost a third of arable land in the past 40 years and it takes around 500 years for just 2.5cm of topsoil. Furthermore, FAO estimates that there are only 60 harvest left before our soils become too degraded to feed us. Therefore, our responsibility now is to find environmentally friendly solutions to be able to farm for future populations!
A strategy to limit the environmental impact of agriculture is to substitute or to balance chemical agricultural inputs with biological inputs. Some of the key drivers for this are:
As a result, crop protection companies are now looking at nature to discover natural processes or agents that can overtake chemicals. Natural occurring microorganisms are great candidates for this task, because microbes fight other microbes for ecological niches, and microbes are part of the plants’ physiology (similarly to our gut flora), it is not surprising that crop protection have turned their attention into developing microbial products.
Microbes are organisms that are too small to be viewed by the naked eye. One gram of soil contains billions of virus, millions of bacteria and fungi, in addition to algae, nematodes or protists.
Microbes and plants are intimate partners in virtually every life process. Therefore, there is a clear opportunity in optimizing the microbial communities of plants to enhance productivity. In contrast to past management strategies that targeted microbes in the mistaken belief that they all cause disease.
Some examples of the microbe/plant interactions that agriculture can benefit of include (Read more):
FungiAlert’s novel SporSenZ technology facilitates a unique microbial soil analysis that informs about the key and dominant microbial species present in the field.
The SporSenZ is a sampler of the microbial community within the soil. Its chemical composition mimics the roots and attracts the microorganisms that are alive and actively growing in the field. This Soil Health Analysis identifies disease risks from soil/water before symptoms are visible to the eye, therefore, it enables growers to make key agricultural decisions, such as: to decide and evaluate appropriate crop protection strategies; plan rotational decisions; choose the most appropriate seed variety or seed treatment; assess the quality of rented land; choose which fields to harvest etc.
FungiAlert has carried out over 1,300 soil analyses worldwide, focusing on the fungal/ooomycetal species. In these analyses, we have identified different types of species, not only crop pathogens, but also naturally occurring beneficial species which can have a beneficial impact on crops.
FungiAlert’s services have the potential to deliver a personalised medicine for crops. By understanding the microbial communities in the field, we are learning the effect of crop protection strategies on the soil diversity. More importantly, we are identifying microbes that could replace and/or contribute to current crop protection strategies, helping us on the path towards a more sustainable agriculture.