Producers now have access to a new microbial fertilizer that dramatically increases plant size and yield, thanks to a licensing agreement between Michigan State University and Bio Soil Enhancers Inc. of Hattiesburg, Miss.

C.A. Reddy, a Lansing-based university microbiology and molecular genetics researcher, and Lalithakumari Janarthanam, visiting research associate, isolated beneficial bacteria, fungi and other soil microbes. The scientists then combined selected groups of these organisms and identified a formulation that significantly increased plant growth and productivity.

"The microbe formulation offers a number of benefits to plants," Reddy says. "It promotes growth by enabling plants to use atmospheric nitrogen. This reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

"The formulation also helps the plants become more disease-resistant and helps mobilize key minerals, such as phosphate, which helps crops produce plant-growth-stimulating hormone. Above all, the formulation is cost-effective and environmentally friendly."

The researchers tested the formulations on several crops, including be bell peppers, squash, tomatoes and corn. Growth and yield improved by 25 percent to 90 percent in a few cases.

The researchers say even they were surprised by the response.

"I don’t know of any other product currently on the market that benefits so many types of crops," Reddy says.

The two most beneficial formulas have been commercially licensed by Bio Soil Enhancers.

Wayne Wade and Krish Reddy, co-founders of the company, say initial products are on the market now, and new products are expected to be released shortly.

The company also is pursuing organic certification for the products, says its president and co-founder, Lou Elwell.

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