Time to look at biofertilisers

BIOFERTILIZER TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER Edited by L V Gangwane Publisher: Associated Publishing Company, Delhi Price: Rs 300

By Al Adholeya
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

LARGE-SCALE manufacture, transportation and application of chemical fertilisers are energy-intensive processes, which is why the hike in oil prices has made them more expensive. Moreover, the vast quantities of waste generated by the industrial and domestic sectors have led to extensive land and water pollution. The collective impact of these phenomena has been an increased interest in biofertilisers.

This book is appropriate at a time when the Indian sub-continent is facing an alarming economic deficit. It discusses various probable biofertilisers, including symbionts like Azospirillum, Azotobacter, Rhizobium, Blue green algae, Mycorrhizae and Azollka, and gives a valuable account of research conducted on several micro-organisms while answering some basic issues related to agriculture and forestry. Several papers in the book indicate preliminary results achieving benefits, which should ensure continued efforts towards making them applicable and developing technological packages.

The information on micro-organisms, though of academic value, fails to identify the success story of application or technology transfer for the common person's knowledge. The best approach would have been to identify the protocols developed for application and indicate the obstacles in disseminating them. Results achieved by the scientific community are seldom applied practically. This book could have filled the lacuna by identifying technologies enhancing soil biofertility that have already been transferred to the field as well as the micro-organisms that could be potential success stories and mentioning the areas where the technology is about to be perfected.

A logarithmic expansion in our understanding of biochemistry, physiology and genetics of biofertiliser microrganisms has indicated a sound possibility of making them a practical reality. The book should have emphasised the limiting factors and successful examples so as to enable laypersons to learn more about biofertiliser applications.

Alok Adholeya is Area Convenor, Microbiology, Tata Energy Research Institute.

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