Bacteria as allies for soil recovery
This week we talked with the Brazilian scientist Everlon Rigobelo, a professor at the Paulista State University (Unesp), an agronomist and an expert in microbiology, who has a proposal to save our soils from degradation : using bacteria as fertilizer. Professor Everlon’s initiative caught our attention when we met it in a scientific magazine and we found it curious, but talking to him, we understood that his idea is to revive the steps that nature took to strengthen life on earth.
By Stella Álvarez
Talking with Professor Everlon allows you to marvel at science and the beauty of nature at the same time. He says it forcefully: “ Microorganisms, such as bacteria, have been here for approximately 4 billion years. Plants arose 700 million years ago, so when plants arose in the world, microorganisms were already adapted, totally adapted to live in the conditions of that time.”
But it was not only that microorganisms came before plants, scientists like Professor Everlon think that it is to them that we owe the success of plants in their efforts to inhabit the planet and, therefore, the success of the human species as well. to survive. The process can be summarized like this:
“As in all species, those microorganisms that did not adapt were eliminated and those that functioned survived to live in that primitive land where there was no availability of nutrients that exists today; there was no organic material, the temperature was very high, there were rainy cycles, it was a very adverse condition and yet the microorganisms lived like this. So when plants emerged, they were at great risk of failing to colonize the land. And what happened there? There was the interaction microorganisms – plants. We believe that this interaction that we know today, which is very strong, this plant-microorganism interaction, arose from the very beginning of plants;
Professor Everlon’s proposal is both simple and complex: each plant interacts with a huge number of microorganisms but only a few varieties. She chooses them because they help boost her growth. They are many in number, but 95% are of the same species, since somehow, it is the interaction that suits both the microorganism and the plant. Each plant has a world of interaction in the area called rhizosphere that is close to its roots. So: “We are not making anything up; we are proposing to favor the growth of the plants that we use to feed human beings with bacteria. Nurturing soils with microorganisms, because the soil is a living organism that is chemical, physical and biological at the same time. Until now, the use of chemicals for its fertilization has been privileged,
The research group of the São Paulo State University (Unesp) to which Professor Everlon belongs, specifically studies the use of 23 species of microorganisms that have been shown to have a growth-enhancing effect on various types of plants that are strategic for feeding humans.
The use of biological beings such as bacteria, which are already found naturally in the soil, can be a solution to its degradation caused by the intensive use of large tracts of land in monocultures and by fertilization with chemical substances, in addition to the fumigation with highly toxic products such as those that have been used for several decades in agriculture .
Listen to the interview translated into Spanish here:
Listen to the full interview in Portuguese here: