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Biological products show promise in agriculture

New approaches to combat old foes

Technology continues to reach ever-higher limits when it comes to agricultural products. Some of the latest advancements in science are allowing chemical companies to add new biological elements to enhance their products. By combining chemical and natural means to handle diseases and pests, the potential for higher yields rises.

According to Willie Vogt with Farm Industry News, many chemical companies have joined forces with or acquired biological product companies and research teams to create new ways of handling problems in the field. Research shows that their efforts continue to prove effective by eliminating problems as well as being beneficial for the health of the plant. [Read the full article, "Ag of the future: Tech changing genetic potential of crops".]

Southern States is at the forefront of new biological product technology. We consulted with retired Southern States Agronomist Charles Hubbard for his take on some of these new products and how effective they have been for his customers.

Most of the new technology using natural means incorporates it through seed treatments, making it very easy for growers to use, says Hubbard. It also conveniently places inoculants in the rhizosphere, the zone surrounding the plant's roots, from the start. Research has proven the importance of beneficial organisms in a plant's rhizosphere to the overall health of the plant.

Brady Rhizobia and Trichoderma Inoculants

Southern States offers ABM's line of Brady Rhizobia and Trichoderma inoculants for treatment of wheat and soybean seeds, while hopper box treatments are available for corn, soybeans and wheat. These products contain patented Tricoderma strains that improve plant health, root growth and dry-weather performance by turning on the plant's natural disease defenses. Although this way of battling disease is not new, the effectiveness has greatly improved over time with advances in technology.


Another product offered by Southern States is called Biostart, available as a seed treatment, liquid starter treatment or broadcast spray. This product uses three types of friendly bacteria to speed up the plant's breakdown of nutrients, excluding other potentially harmful organisms in the rhizosphere and improving plant health, growth and yields.


Southern States also sells Votivo for corn and soybeans. A seed treatment, Votivo controls nematodes with natural means. Our farmers have had positive results from using this product. While harmful nematodes may still be around, with Votivo their numbers are reduced and damage is lessened or eliminated.

Growers can encourage active microbes in the soil by other means as well. For example, multi-species cover crops and specific cover crops show certain microbial benefits in the crop following it. In addition, a product called Monty's Carbon may actually increase a soil's microbial activity while also improving plants' health.

For more information about biological products, consult your local Southern States Agronomy Professional or local Extension agency.

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