A group of farmers travel to a corn research plot at the Asgrow/DeKalb Ag Academy. Guests learned about new technology and plant breeding at the event.
A group of farmers travel to a corn research plot at the Asgrow/DeKalb Ag Academy. Guests learned about new technology and plant breeding at the event.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Biological products are one way that farmers can nurture crops.

Enzymes are used in many industries, from detergents to wine and beer making. In agriculture, enzymes can be used to boost soil health.

The benefits of these products were discussed at the Asgrow/DeKalb Ag Academy.

“They act on a plant,” said Margi Schmidt, spokeswoman at Novozyme, a division of Monsanto that focuses on biological agriculture.

“They cause a plant to take action, to increase sugar production, to increase yields. They can grow and multiply in the bag or in the soil. They are synergistic, so they will work together to cause a reaction,” she said.

Examples of agricultural biologicals are Rhizobia, Penicillium bilaii, Tricoderma and LCO Promoter Technology. LCOs are molecules that enhance a plant’s nutritional profile, including better root and shoot development in soybeans.

“I consider it a cheap insurance policy,” said A.J. Booher, a farmer who has used biological products on soybeans. “Even if it only earns one-tenth of a bushel more, it’s worth it.”

Biological products can enhance crops by:

* Increasing the supply of nutrients to the crop;

* Stimulating crop stress mitigation;

* Generally improving crop health and productivity; and

* Controlling insects and disease.

Adoption of biological products has been slow in the past because results are not always visible and the product can be slow acting, Schmidt said.

Popularity for ag biologicals are on the rise, however. The projected market share of microbials is $4.4 billion by 2021.

“This is not a new concept. Microbes have always been around,” Schmidt said. “It’s not a new product. It’s just really growing in the marketplace right now. It’s one more thing that will help us increase yields.”

To learn more about agricultural biologicals, visit www.novozymes.com.