Nitrogen fixing bacteria.

Simon Chiles

DD Moderator
With the recent escalation of Nitrogen prices it has occurred to me that growers are going to consider alternative sources of N. Having been involved with some initial work on N fixing bacteria I thought it might be useful to have a thread on here so that farmers can ask questions about some of the trial work that has been so that they can make some informed decisions. Having discussed this with @Chris F we have invited Natallia from Plantworks to join the forum and participate in the discussion. If you have any questions you’d like to ask please post them here and hopefully she’ll be able to answer them.
 

robs1

Member
Firstly thank you for inviting me to this group to discuss N fixing bacteria.

Maybe to offer a little context. PlantWorks is a science-based producer of biofertilisers with research covering some twenty years in functional microbes in the UK. In 2014 we commenced our research programmes for UK farming, results from which I am pleased to share with this group.

A very classic example of the use of N fixing bacteria is usually quoted from Brazil, where annually over 100 million doses are applied, 10% of which on wheat where between 13-18% greater root mass is observed and an average grain yield increase of 8%.

Bacteria like warm conditions with good food sources (from plant exudates) to replicate and function. Although we are getting hotter, European soils and environments are not like those of Brazil; with that said, we are finding increasing function of the application of tuned bacteria called ‘Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR) for different crops in the UK. I will offer in this thread some results and discussion that I would be pleased to answer questions on, or indeed, to answer any other questions this group have more generally.
Perhaps you already have but you could contact niab and get them to do trials for you, if it works independently done work is more believed
 

Simon Chiles

DD Moderator
I’m struggling to see how any manufacturer of a crop input could justify that. As for a pesticide we ‘might’ get backup if it causes detrimental effects on the crop if all other variables get ruled out. You wouldn’t ask for a guarantee on blackgrass chemistry or fungicide(?). Also how would you police it? A replicated small plot harvested trial in every soil type of every field at a cost of 1-2000 each? Who pays for that? It’s a nice idea though 👍

Exactly. The whole point of this thread was to try and get some answers and tips from the experts. Personally I would be 100% convinced that in the right conditions these PGPR work and I could reduce my reliance on N. I would have much less confidence in my ability to manage them for my best advantage and would therefore be worried about whether they were going to work for me. I would therefore like to know whether anything else I applied to the crop would either increase or decrease their effectiveness.
Here are a couple of questions I have:-
Is there anything I could add to the soil to feed the bacteria and therefore increase their effectiveness?
Does the type of Nitrogen I apply to the crop have any detrimental effect on the bacteria, I have a sneaking suspicion that Urea would be detrimental but obviously I don’t know definitively. Is any form of N better to use in conjunction with them?
Is there anything that I might be likely to apply to my crop that would reduce their numbers?
 

Two Tone

Member
Mixed Farmer
Exactly. The whole point of this thread was to try and get some answers and tips from the experts. Personally I would be 100% convinced that in the right conditions these PGPR work and I could reduce my reliance on N. I would have much less confidence in my ability to manage them for my best advantage and would therefore be worried about whether they were going to work for me. I would therefore like to know whether anything else I applied to the crop would either increase or decrease their effectiveness.
Here are a couple of questions I have:-
Is there anything I could add to the soil to feed the bacteria and therefore increase their effectiveness?
Does the type of Nitrogen I apply to the crop have any detrimental effect on the bacteria, I have a sneaking suspicion that Urea would be detrimental but obviously I don’t know definitively. Is any form of N better to use in conjunction with them?
Is there anything that I might be likely to apply to my crop that would reduce their numbers?
When I did the trail with the Glenside product, which IIRC was called N-sure about 20 years ago, I was using Urea as my source of N fertiliser.
It definitely had an effect, but the results were all over the place and neither I or Glenside could make head nor tail of why it worked on some fields and not other (this despite Albrecht testing of the fields).
Basically, I had put of my 1st dose of Urea in February that amounted to about a 3rd of the total I would use.
Then, where the trials were in each field, instead of putting the 2nd dose on, we put the N-sure on.
I was told it was a sensitive product and that we needed to neutralise anything in the water that might damage the product. I did this with sugar that I bought in vast quantities from my local supermarket, raising a lot of eyebrows from its staff and fellow shoppers. But it was surprisingly cheap!
IIRC, I also added another Glenside product called Maerit (which is Marriphite without the Phosphite added) which at that time we were using regularly over the farm.

As I said, in places it worked well, out-yielding where we had put the 2nd dose of Urea, but in others not so.
Unfortunately, Glenside decided not to continue with it.
One of the things I remember was that there was a definite greening effect and that where the trials ares were in each field, the crop colour was about the same as where we had used the 2nd dose on Urea.


The Twin N had nothing added to it and didn’t work at all! I was told that it was used in Australian and worked in Arid conditions.
The crop colour was as if no 2nd dose of Urea was put on at all and yields were well down.

It is obvious to me that companies such as Glenside, think about it properly, research it and try hard to make it work. Companies such as these have certain other products that do actually increase crop yields and can seriously reduce the amount of N fertiliser that is needed to achieve similar, if not better yields. But we do require much more detailed soil analysis such as proper Albrecht testing to achieve this.

On the other hand , there are far too many “Snake oil” sellers out there that try to sell us stuff in order to keep them in the lifestyle to which the are accustomed!
 
Location
Kent
I’m struggling to see how any manufacturer of a crop input could justify that. As for a pesticide we ‘might’ get backup if it causes detrimental effects on the crop if all other variables get ruled out. You wouldn’t ask for a guarantee on blackgrass chemistry or fungicide(?). Also how would you police it? A replicated small plot harvested trial in every soil type of every field at a cost of 1-2000 each? Who pays for that? It’s a nice idea though 👍
Thank you. The best any manufacturer can do is to ensure the efficacy of products at the point of production. This is more difficult with biology, and it is the reason we produce our microbes in bioreactors and genetically profile the organisms. Tuned bacterial consortia for different crops, coupled with considerate product formulation, should give extra assurance to product shelf life and efficacy.
 
Location
Kent
This has been on my mind for a while.

Presumably any bacteria will need a suitable environment to live and reproduce in. What sort of conditions do they thrive in (pH, texture, food / nutrition source etc) and what conditions / soils stop them dead in their tracks (water logging, ground frost, high/low pH) ?

What are the limitations of applying them uniformly to soil, especially when soils are being sprayed with fungicides, and for example acidic sulphur containing fertilisers?
Generally, the environment that is ideal for plants is ideal for microbes like bacteria. Unsurprisingly considering the long discovered symbiotic relationship between plants and these rhizobia, which is the basis of bioinoculants technology. It is known that bacteria are adaptable, and able to and thrive under harsh environmental conditions by developing various means to tolerate extreme changes. Therefore, bacteria have great potential to help the plants thrive in typical agricultural soil pH and temperature conditions. This also includes hypoxic conditions in the water logging scenario or under drought conditions when plants usually struggle to overcome.

Speedy establishment of these bacterial inoculants is critical to the successful deployment, ideally applied at soil temperatures around 12 degrees C, with simple sugars and amino acids to feed on supplied within an accompanying Biostimulant. A period of rain post application is helping to drive the bacteria to the crop's root zone, especially when there is already enough roots ready to receive and feed them

When the bioinoculant products are water dispersible, uniform application to the soil using a farm sprayer is easily achieved, especially when the suspension is constantly agitated during the application. We have shown this consistently with a coarse droplet setting.

Regarding the possible effects, pesticides have on the bacterial inoculants, R&D looking at the impact of common herbicides and fungicides, especially ones applied in spring, on the survival of the bacteria at PlantWorks has shown not to affect the bacteria adversely. We continue to research tank mixes with our bacteria, and we will update our recommendations presently.

There have been a limited number of studies looking into the effects of different forms of N-fertilisers on PGPR performances. Lowering the dose of N application around the time of bacterial inoculation ensures the plants and microbes have enough N for growth but not too much to hinder plant/microbe symbiosis establishment.
 
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Location
Kent
This is the first of three blog posts in relation to wheat trials using SMART ROTATIONS 3 liquid bacteria sprayed on wheat in 2020 and 2021.
 
This is the first of three blog posts in relation to wheat trials using SMART ROTATIONS 3 liquid bacteria sprayed on wheat in 2020 and 2021.
Sorry if this has been mentioned, I’ve read most of the thread roughly but for simple people like me

is this product commercially available yet?

if so how much?

how much do I reduce my n inputs on a crop if I use it?

can I still use other plant protection products?

like most here I’m quite happy to spend my own money finding out if it works for me but I have to quantify the level risk before I start
 
Location
Kent
Sorry if this has been mentioned, I’ve read most of the thread roughly but for simple people like me

is this product commercially available yet?

if so how much?

how much do I reduce my n inputs on a crop if I use it?

can I still use other plant protection products?

like most here I’m quite happy to spend my own money finding out if it works for me but I have to quantify the level risk before I start
The product is commercially available to the farmers through their preferred agronomy suppliers or directly from us at £19/ha, supplied in 5ha units, please see attached.
The reduction of N will be different for every farmer depending on the current N rate and farming practices. We have results show that reduction by 20-30% N is a good starting point.
You still can use other protection products, but do not mix them with bacteria in the same tank
.
 

Attachments

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alomy75

Member
The product is commercially available to the farmers through their preferred agronomy suppliers or directly from us at £19/ha, supplied in 5ha units, please see attached.
The reduction of N will be different for every farmer depending on the current N rate and farming practices. We have results show that reduction by 20-30% N is a good starting point.
You still can use other protection products, but do not mix them with bacteria in the same tank
.
Have you any replicated trial data or is it more anecdotal field scale?
 
Location
Kent
Have you any replicated trial data or is it more anecdotal field scale?
We run trials on our monitor farms in collaboration with the farmers. They are replicated tramline field trials, where we use qGIS to collect the data and R studio to analyse it. We manage over 200(!) readings from one treatment condition and over 1000 from the whole trial with this method.
Our products are also independently tested by various agronomy companies (e.g. Lamport project with Agrovista, ProCam, BBRO, Germains etc.), collaborating with universities (e.g Harper Adams University, University of Cambridge, etc.) and NIAB. This year SR3 was successfully trialled by an independent trial company in Hungary for registration purposes. I will be posting more data on TFF; meanwhile, please check our websitehttps://smart.plantworksuk.co.uk/
 

alomy75

Member
We run trials on our monitor farms in collaboration with the farmers. They are replicated tramline field trials, where we use qGIS to collect the data and R studio to analyse it. We manage over 200(!) readings from one treatment condition and over 1000 from the whole trial with this method.
Our products are also independently tested by various agronomy companies (e.g. Lamport project with Agrovista, ProCam, BBRO, Germains etc.), collaborating with universities (e.g Harper Adams University, University of Cambridge, etc.) and NIAB. This year SR3 was successfully trialled by an independent trial company in Hungary for registration purposes. I will be posting more data on TFF; meanwhile, please check our websitehttps://smart.plantworksuk.co.uk/
That sounds good but the ultimate would be some uk based small plot work; you don’t need too much data; all farmers care about is yield and quality which any trials plot harvester would give you. PM if you’re interested in such a trial (we operate an independent trials company also, ORETO accredited). Tramline trials are ok but you need to remove all of the variables to isolate exactly what the SR3 is bringing to the table. IMO of course!
 

Cambsfarm

New Member
I have worked with PlantWorks for 5 years trialing SR3.
Crops used have been WW groups 1-4, spring barley and spring red wheat.
Trial plots have ranged between 1-10ha.
SR3 has been applied using Fert nozzles with 200l/ha of water.
Growth stage of crop at application GS12-25.
Soil conditions at application bone dry - sloppy.
Fert used liquid N35+7so3 and solid 25.5.5 as starter in spring crops.
Trial Fert reductions between 10-50%.
No change in any pesticide programs.
Yields have shown an uplift v control.
 

Chris F

Staff Member
Media
Location
Hammerwich
I have worked with PlantWorks for 5 years trialing SR3.
Crops used have been WW groups 1-4, spring barley and spring red wheat.
Trial plots have ranged between 1-10ha.
SR3 has been applied using Fert nozzles with 200l/ha of water.
Growth stage of crop at application GS12-25.
Soil conditions at application bone dry - sloppy.
Fert used liquid N35+7so3 and solid 25.5.5 as starter in spring crops.
Trial Fert reductions between 10-50%.
No change in any pesticide programs.
Yields have shown an uplift v control.

Do you run a full belt and braces pesticide program? Can you give an example?
 

holmes65

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
S Yorkshire
I have worked with PlantWorks for 5 years trialing SR3.
Crops used have been WW groups 1-4, spring barley and spring red wheat.
Trial plots have ranged between 1-10ha.
SR3 has been applied using Fert nozzles with 200l/ha of water.
Growth stage of crop at application GS12-25.
Soil conditions at application bone dry - sloppy.
Fert used liquid N35+7so3 and solid 25.5.5 as starter in spring crops.
Trial Fert reductions between 10-50%.
No change in any pesticide programs.
Yields have shown an uplift v control.
Presumably you apply it in the autumn?
 

Top cereal and oilseed growers honoured at the Yield Enhancement Network Awards 2021

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Despite an average growing year for most crops, many growers managed to go above and beyond their predicted max yields, with Lincolnshire grower Tim Lamyman taking the top spots for his wheat yields and his world record breaking winter barley yield.

The highest cereal and oilseed yields achieved at harvest 2021 were announced at this year’s Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) Awards on Wednesday 24th November at the Croptec Show. With award presentations by Tom Bradshaw, Vice President of NFU, 24 farms took home the evening’s top awards for highest yield and highest potential yield achieved for wheat, winter and spring barley, oats, and oilseed. The 2021 winners came from all corners of the UK, as well as from as far afield as Finland and New Zealand.

Familiar names from 2020 made the...
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