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Fertilizers Can be Alive, Too
A group of people from Taiwan・s agricultural agencies and academic circle is quietly working on something that could be used in the future, that・s microbe fertilizers.
The so-called microbe fertilizers are those contain live or dormant microbes, said Dr. Su-chen Lin with the Agricultural Research Institute, the Council of Agriculture. When microbe fertilizers are used on seeds, seedlings or soils, they can increase the amount of nutrients in the soil or the effectiveness of the nutrients. For example, phosphate-solubilizing bacteria are able to revitalize phosphate trapped in soils.
Taiwan farmers have been reluctant to use microbe fertilizers for very complicated reasons.
The first is fertilizer subsidies given by the government. Farmers can buy fertilizers at almost half price, so they are more willing to use cheap fertilizers. Even when enough fertilizers have been used on farm crops, farmers who don・t want to take the remaining fertilizers home would just spread them in their field.
The second reason is farmers don・t know how to apply microbe fertilizers. They often use such fertilizers on instinct, so the fertilizers become ineffective as a result.
There was a farmer who used microbe fertilizers in his farm immediately after buying them. And he used germicide on the second day when he found his farm crops were invaded by germs. When agricultural extension worker asked the farmer about the effects of using microbe fertilizers after some time, he said ：It・s useless!；
Of course microbe fertilizers are useless for the farmer, because these fertilizers are also a kind of germs which will be killed by germicide.
Every microbe fertilizer has to be used differently at a different time. For instance, mycorrhizal fungi are used at the time of growing seedlings and they must be mixed with seedling growing medium before being applied. They should not be spread in soil or sprayed with water in field. Some microbe fertilizers like phosphate-solubilizing bacteria are used after being added water, but it must be applied when crops are growing to have better effects. If not applied according to instructions, microbe fertilizers won・t have obvious effects or even become useless.
That・s why microbe fertilizers can reduce farmers・ use of chemical fertilizers. But Taiwan farmers who get used to cheap fertilizers don・t think this is a merit, so it has been very difficult to promote the use of microbe fertilizers.
：The time of microbe fertilizers will come very soon, and chemical fertilizers have gradually reached the end of the road,； said Mr. Hsuan-yu Chien, a researcher at Agricultural Chemistry Division of the Agricultural Research Institute.
According to Chien, manufacturing chemical fertilizers consumes a lot of energy and resources. With energy and resources diminishing, producing chemical fertilizers will cost more and more. And when there is no energy and resources to manufacture chemical fertilizers, it will be time for microbe fertilizers to appear.
：In the long run, chemical fertilizers will disappear,； said Chien, ：and then there are only natural microbe fertilizers and compost.；
Meanwhile, Dr. Lin found a new path for her research. ：Since farmers don・t pay attention to the merit of using less chemical fertilizers, so I am searching for microbe fertilizers which have disease-resistant effects. They can not only provide farm crops with nutrients, but also help crops fight against diseases or bacteria.；
For instance, mycorrhizal fungi maintain a symbiotic relationship with farm crops and they will grow hypha inside the crop・s tissue. And when the crop・s tissue is filled with mycorrhizal fungi・s hyphae, there will be no room for bacteria to endanger the crops.
Besides, these mycorrhizal fungi will also induce farm crops to produce biocidal substance and reduce carbon emissions. And when carbon emissions from the root of farm crops are reduced, other pathogenic bacteria can not survive.
Farmers will become more interested if microbe fertilizers could reduce the use of fertilizers and help farm crops resist diseases and bacteria.