Researchers have developed a new type of microbial fertilizer capable of increasing crop output by up to 440 percent, the Council of Agriculture has announced.
Microbial fertilizers have in the past few years swept the industry, generating hundreds of millions of New Taiwan dollars in value, Kaohsiung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station director Tai Shun-fa (戴順發) said on Tuesday, adding that this newest discovery provides farmers with yet another option amid a growing supply.
Station researcher Chen Tai-yuan (陳泰元) said they collected microorganisms from productive organic farms across Kaohsiung and Pingtung County.
From the more than 30 types collected, researchers identified one from a rice field in Pingtung County’s Wandan Township (萬丹) that showed promise in promoting crop growth, he said.
The microbe, Bacillus velezensis KHH13, works by dissolving minerals such as phosphorus and potassium, making them more accessible to crops, he said.
The microbes can also produce indole-3-acetic Acid, or IAA, a plant growth hormone, and enzymes important to plant growth, he added.
In testing, KHH13 has proven capable of significantly increasing the net weight of a variety of leafy greens, Chen said.
For example, the weight of Chinese white cabbage rose by 80 percent, oilseed rape and celery by 190 percent, and curled lettuce by 440 percent, he said.
KHH13 can also produce compounds to compete with pathogenic organisms, improving soil health and protecting crops from damage, Chen said.
The fertilizer has already been patented domestically and licensed for nonexclusive use by Green Mountain Co, Tai said.
The agricultural supply firm in May began selling the fertilizer under the name Wandan Microbial Fertilizer (萬丹菌肥), he added.
It is also included in a subsidy program for organic fertilizers by the Agriculture and Food Agency, which covers half the retail price up to NT$5,000 per hectare, Tai said.
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