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Monday, November 17, 2008

UPLB Develops Biofertilizer that Builds "Nitrogen Factory"

A biofertilizer developed by the National Institute on Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in UP Los Banos has been proven to be virtually a nitrogen factory in the soil.
This biofertillizer, called Nitro Plus, was the product of a comprised of Dr. Erlinda Paterno, Ms. Fe Torres and Dr. Ma. Lourdes Sison.
According to Sison, when Biotech was just starting, among the key biotechnology programs was biofertilizers, specifically nitrogen fixation and mychorriza, and research was concentrated on nitrogen fixation by food legumes.
Sison studied Soil Science at UPLB and got her Master's degree in Soil Chemistry at UPLB's College of Agriculture. She also has a M Ed. and Ph.D in Soil Microbiology and had been with the institute since 1981.
She described Nitro Plus as a legume inoculant. She was quick to point out that Dr. Paterno has been doing research on Nitro Plus even before she joined them in 1981.
"Nitro-plus contains a bacterium called rhizobia which fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere so that it could be utilized by the plant," Sison said.
"This is for legumes specifically, because the rhizobia is specific, it enters the root of the legume and there exists a symbiotic relationship. The plant benefits from the bacteria, the bacteria benefits from the plant. Nitrogen fixation, it is the process of utilizing the nitrogen from the air so that it could be made available to the plant," she added.
"Nitrogen from the air is gas and cannot be absorbed by the plant. It has to be made in the available form, which is ammonium or nitrate. The process is called nitrogen fixation, biological nitrogen fixation, because there is also chemical nitrogen fixation," Sison explained further.
Through nitrogen fixation, the plant needs little or no fertilizer at all. The presence of rhizobia causes the symbiotic relationship and it creates something that resembles a nitrogen factory in the soil.
Asked why they chose legumes, she said: "Very specific because the organism involved is rhizobia."
She added that they chose to isolate it because it is the best.
On soybean, Sison said that the plant could thrive on Nitro Plus alone. She said that the plant grows "even better than when you use fertilizer."
"And, besides, if you add fertilizer together with the inoculant, the plant will be lazy to do the fixation," emphasized Sison.
In other countries, Sison said, there are also products like Nitro Plus and rhizobia that are popular in Australia, Brazil, the United States and even Thailand. Australia has the most advanced product so far.
Sison said that our Nitro Plus is at par with the products of other countries.
"It is competitive. It depends on the local conditions. We all have our best strains. It depends on the location, the soil and also the climate," she added.
Sison said that Nitro Plus is "almost ready for commercialization if there is a private taker."
She pointed out that there are many orders but it is only they who manufacture Nitro Plus because of the absence of a private taker. She said that their research work has been smooth. Now, she said that they have even developed liquid carriers.
"The carrier is very well studied, the performance in the field very well studied, the survival in the soil, the persistence, very well studied," Sison concluded.
biolife news service

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