We talk a lot about soil quality and soil biology. When we hear soil biology, earthworms and rhizobium are the first things that come to mind. There are many other soil life forms that deserve our attention. I will present information on the most beneficially ones over the next few months. As fertilizer prices continue to raise, it will be important to not only feed the crop, but also feed the organisms that enable the plant to access those high priced inputs.
I present Azotobacter
Azotobacter is a bacterium that can fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil without the aid of a legume. It is a great source of nitrogen to meet the needs of crops, has the capability rejuvenate the soil, and provides nutrients for other microbiology to max out nitrogen fixation. Its main fuel is carbon (organic matter), but it also requires calcium, and micronutrients for nitrogen fixation.
Besides N fixation Azotobacter improves seed germination, produces plant growth promoting hormones, and fungicidal substances. Azotobacter is the heaviest breathing organism and requires a large amount of organic carbon for its growth. It thrives in alkaline soils and is less effective in soils with poor organic matter content, low pH and high salts.
Azotobacter produces Thiamin, Riboflavin, B12, B1, Biotin, Gibberellins, and Cytocinins. Azotobacter produces substances that are required for Rhizobium bacteria, and Mycorrhize growth. Rhizobium is primarily responsible for nitrogen fixation in legumes. Plants growing in the presence of Mycorrhize have improved nutrient and water uptake, disease resistance and superior growth.
Azotobacter also has a symbiotic relationship with Phosphobacteria. Phosphobacteria as it’s name implies transfers phosphate from insoluble soil particles directly to the plant in soluble from. Azotobacter and Phosphobacteria fix phosphate more efficiently together than alone. Phosphobacteria alone increased potato yields by 6%, while together with Azotobacter increased yields 33%.
Ensure that your not missing out on free nitrogen, keep your pH at 6.5 or higher, supply the necessary carbon and calcium that this extremely beneficial bacteria needs with SuperCal 98G pelletized lime.
The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!