Development and Implementation

  • Sustainable Agriculture


    Development and Implementation of a Multimicrobial and Multifunctional Inoculant for Enhancing Soybean Productivity and Environmental . . .


    NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Excessive use of inorganic fertilizers in agriculture pollutes the environment. The purpose is to develop and implement an innovative multipurpose and multimicrobial inoculant for soybean that will contain elite diverse beneficial microorganisms instead of applying N, P, and micronutrients chemical fertilizers.

    OBJECTIVES: There is a rapid increase in public demand for organic farming, especially for growing vegetable crops such as vegetable soybeans. In the soil ecosystem, there are beneficial indigenous microorganisms with beneficial roles in nutrient cycling and management that can efficiently fulfill the organic farming demand. Although, it is believed that growing soybeans does not require mineral N fertilization, the fact is that a large percentage of soybean acreage in the U.S. receives N and P fertilization. This is due to lack of efficient commercial inoculants and or indigenous bradyrhizobia, which have low host specificity and are intolerant to biotic and abiotic stresses. Furthermore, these soybean inoculants do not contain other beneficial microorganisms such as mychorrhizae and PPFM. Although the individual activities of these microorganisms are known, no information is available on their synergistic effects when combined together as an inoculant. Therefore, the researchers are proposing to develop and implement an innovative multipurpose and multimicrobial inoculant for soybean that will contain elite diverse beneficial microorganisms instead of applying N, P, and micronutrient chemical fertilizers. The candidate microorganisms are: 1) elite Bradyrhizobium japonicum that effectively nodulates and fixes nitrogen with soybeans, 2) specific rhizobiophages as a biological control approach to control undesirable indigenous B. japonicum, 3) PPFM bacteria to improve plant growth under drought stress, and 4) mychorrhizae to increase the availability of moisture and micronutrients and enhance the growth of soybean roots. Introducing the proposed inoculant to soybean farming will enhance soybean productivity and improve environmental quality. Other important outcomes are training minority students in this area of biotechnology, patenting of the proposed inoculants, and producing it commercially. The overall impacts expected are enhanced low cost production of soybean, improved soil and water quality, and well-trained and skilled UMES undergraduate and graduate students in fulfillment of one of the UMES strategic goals.

    FUNDING:  NIFA - Capacity Building Grant

    CONTACT:  Dr. Fawzy Hashem, Research Associate Professor, Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences, fmhashem@umes.edu