Growers have long relied on inputs to increase production. Most of them, such as pesticides and fertilizers, are familiar parts of the agricultural landscape. A newer type of product is biologicals, such as soil microbes.
Soil microbes, which fall into four broad categories—bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses—perform a number of functions including breaking down crop residues, cycling nutrients, and stimulating root growth. What are Soil Microbes? And Why Do They Matter in Agriculture? – Locus AG
Locus Agriculture, based in Solon, OH, has introduced a new line of biologicals for specialty crops, called Rhizolizer Duo, that it says can boost the return on investment up to $4,000 per acre. There are three formulations: for berries and melons, for fruits and vegetables, and for vineyards and orchards.
“The new Rhizolizer Duo products contain proprietary Trichoderma and Bacillus strains that are scientifically proven to enhance crop performance,” says Locus lead agronomist David Dyson. “This product line unlocks a host of benefits for farmers that wouldn’t otherwise be achievable.”
The Rhizolizer Duo line, introduced this spring, is an improvement on some of the company’s earlier products, which, as liquids, relied on cold-chain shipment. The new formulations are dry wettable powders (there is talc and graphite only in the box applied formulations), and they can be easily applied through irrigation; for example, “they can be shot through drip lines,” says Dyson.
According to the company’s website, third-party research indicates that its products can increase productivity to a startling extent: New Biologicals Boost ROI Up to $4k per Acre for US Farmers (locusag.com)
• Strawberries: up to 1,523 more pounds per acre and $4,190 return on investment
• Tomatoes: up to 3,993 more pounds per acre and $2,021 return on investment
• Peppers: up to 2,238 more pounds per acre and $880 return on investment
• Grapes: up to 1,939 more pounds per acre and $2,277 return on investment
Dyson observes that these returns can vary according to crop prices.
“Use rates are very low,” he says. Application amounts vary between 1 and 3 ounces per acre.
The Rhizolizer biological is “endophytic,” Dyson adds. “It moves up from the roots into the plants and lives up in the plant. It’s a symbiotic relationship.” The plant gives the microbe a structure to live in. The microbe gives off organic acids and other substances that the plant uses to increase yield. “It expands roots as well,” Dyson adds.
Another product, a glycolipid biosurfactant, which will be launched in select states for specialty crops, reduces soil compaction, according to Dyson.
This particular line is not labeled for organic use, Dyson notes but adds that Locus is working on a wettable product for organic crops.
Currently Locus specialty crop products are being sold across the Western, Southwestern, and Southern U.S.
Editor’s note: This column has been updated to reflect more accurate regions where these products are available.