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How Microbes Are Improving Fertilizer and Soil Health

Originally published in CropLife April 1, 2020

By Dan Jacobs

"What’s old is new again. Growers have been using fertilizers of some sort for, well, as long as they’ve been farming. The advent of modern fertilizers certainly helped growers increase their outputs. But after decades of use, they have stripped many beneficial microbes from the soil.

Many companies are now turning that technical know-how and what’s been learned about the microbiome to provide products that help restore soil health and deliver increased yield.

“A lot of the microbe strains that were in the world are now extinct,” Khanh Le, COO and Co-Founder, at Cisbay. “The unfortunate thing is before chemical fertilizer came about after World War II, the soil was quite healthy. We stripped the soil of the natural defence it had — active microorganisms. In nature, in order to control the bad bacteria, you need the good bacteria.”

While the technology has changed, e.g., formulation and application, the basics haven’t.

“It’s fertilizer. It’s the same 17 nutrients we’re all familiar with from school,” says Reid Abbott, SE Regional Agronomist, “How we’re delivering that nutrient; the way the product behaves in the tank, in the soil, in the plant — we can create value from that chain of events.”

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