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Package of Practices
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Limitations of Biofertilizer application

 Use of biofertilizers makes certain constraints generally related to production, market, resource and field level which are as follows.

(1) Production constraints:
  • Unavailability of appropriate and efficient strains
  • Unavailability of suitable carrier
  • Lack of standards in packaging
(2) Market level constraints:
  • Lack of awareness of farmers
  • Inadequate and inexperienced staff
  • Lack of quality assurance
  • Seasonal and un-assured demand
  • Limited scope of marketing
(3) Resource constraints:
  • Limited resource generation for biofertilizers production
  • Limited risk taking ability of farmers
(4) Field level constraints:
  • Soil and climatic factors
  • Native microbial population
  • Faulty inoculation techniques
  • Crop management
  • Quality control

Application methods for Cyanobacteria and Azolla

  • Broadcast 10 kg soil based culture/ha.  5-7 days after transplanting of rice seedlings
  • Maintain sufficient water (5 –10 cm) for 15 days 
  • A thick algal mat is formed at 15 days
  • Drain off water and allow algal mat to settle 
  • Incorporate as green manure before transplanting of rice (500 kg/ha)
  • Dual culture with rice 7 days after transplanting & allow to multiply and incorporate (500 kg/ha)

Application methods for Azospirillum & Phosphate solubilizer

(i) Seed treatment for direct seeded rice
  • Keep the seeds required for sowing one acre in a heap on a clean cemented floor or gunny bag.
  • Prepare culture suspension by mixing one packet {200g}  each of Azospirillum  and PSB biofertilizer in approx. 800 ml water {1:2}
  • Sprinkle the culture suspension on the heap of the seeds and mix by hand so that thin coating is uniformly applied to the seeds.
  • Spread the seeds under shade for some time for drying and then sow 
  • In place of water, rice glue { Kanji} can also be used for better results
(ii) Seedling root dip method for transplanted rice
  • Prepare the suspension by mixing l kg {5 packets} each culture of Azospirillum and PSB in 15-20 litres of water.
  • Get the rice seedlings required for one acre and make small bundles of seedlings.
  • Dip the seedlings root in the suspension for 8-10 hrs and    transplant immediately.
  • Generally, the ratio of inoculants and water is 1:10 
Alternative method
  • Prepare a bed of size 2 m x 1.5 m 0.15 m in the field 
  • Spread a polythene sheet and fill upto 2 inches water
  • Suspend 2 kg each of Azospirillum and PSB culture required for one hectare & mix
  • Dip roots of rice seedling for 8-10 hrs and transplant
Flow chart of root dipping method


Use of biofertilizer in rice

  •  There is a need to balanced supply of nutrients to the crops in an integrated fashion without over reliance on only one source of nutrients for sustainable production.
  • In this direction, bio-fertilizer has emerged as a promising component in integrated nutrient supply system for sustaining the crop production. 
  • Cyanobacterial nitrogen fixation helps to minimize the over dependence of chemicals, in particular, urea in rice farming and also enhances the use efficiency of nitrogen by releasing ammonia constantly to the rice crop. 
  • In addition to nutrient supplementation, Cyanobacteria and Azolla that grow on the soil surface and also as a floating mass act as live aerators in paddy field ecosystem and oxygen released during the photosynthetic activity got liberated as minute air bubbles and consequently aerate the water impounded in paddy field that resulted in increased dissolved oxygen content which ultimately decreased the methane flux. 
  • In addition to the aeration of water, Cyanobacteria and Azolla might alleviate the toxicity due to accumulation of reduced iron and sulphites in rice fields observed under continued submergence. 
  • In another study Banayo et al. (2012) at Philippines evaluated three different biofertilizers (based on Azospirillum, Trichoderma, or unidentified rhizobacteria) during four cropping seasons between 2009 and 2011, using four different fertilizer rates i.e. 100% of the recommended rate (RR), 50 per cent RR, 25 per cent RR, and no fertilizer as Control) and reported that relative terms, the seasonal yield increase across fertilizer treatments was between 5% and 18% for the best biofertilizer (Azospirillum-based), but went up to 24% in individual treatments. 
  • Integration 50 per cent RDN+ Biofertilizers (Azotobacter, Azospirillum and Azolla) +17.5 kg P+ 32 kg /K ha recorded the higher grain yield of rice over the recommended dose of nitrogen (Pattanayak


  •  The symbiotic association between plant roots and fungal mycelia is termed as Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhizae (VAM). 
  • VAM is a fungal biofertilizer mobilizes relatively immobile elements like Zn, Cu, K, S, Al, Mn, Mg, Fe, and speed up their uptake by plants. 
  • VAM inoculation improves the water relation to plants. 
  • Many of the graminaceous and leguminous plants harbour VAM (Gherbi et al., 2008). 
  • These plants contain special structures, which help in the transfer of nutrients from soil into the root system. 
  • The VAM fungi are inter-cellular and obligate endosymbionts. 
  • The fungi are mass-produced only in the presence of living roots. 
  • The production of inoculums needs a host plant and growth medium, usually soil, which provides congenial conditions for growth and reproduction of fungi. 
  • The inoculums should be applied 2-3 cm below the soil at the time of sowing (Sprent et al., 2007).

Phosphate solubilizing microorganisms

  •  Phosphorus is the second important nutrient after nitrogen for plants and microorganisms. 
  • Further, there is build up of insoluble phosphates in soil where phosphatic fertilizers have been applied over long periods.  
  • Some heterotrophic bacteria and fungi are known to have the ability to solubilize inorganic P from insoluble sources. 
  • Important phosphate solubilizing organisms are Pseudomonas striata, Bacillus polymyxa, Aspergillus awamori and Penicillium digitatum etc. P solubilizing fungal population is generally found more in acid to neutral soils while the bacterial population in neutral to alkaline soils. 
  • Their microorganisms can grow on insoluble phosphatic sources such as tricalcium phosphate, ferric, aluminium and magnesium phosphate, rock phosphate and bone meal and convert them into soluble forms. 
  • These organisms secrete various organic and inorganic acids. 
  • They act on insoluble phosphates and convert them into soluble phosphates in the rhizosphere. 
  • Among the microorganisms, bacteria are found to be more efficient in the secretion of organic acids. 
  • Addition of organic manures helps in increasing the solubilizing power of the microorganisms. 
  • PSB are reported to facilitate P supply to plant by solubilising insoluble P and results in better P uptake following their inoculation (Rautela et al., 2001).
  • The utilization of native soil phosphorus is mostly unavailable to crops due to low solubility. 


  •  Azolla is a free-floating fresh water fern (Azolla pinnata). 
  • Azolla is applied to the main field as a green manure and dual crop. 
  • As green manure crop it is allowed to grow on the flooded fields for 2-3 weeks before transplanting later water is drained and ploughing for mixing with the soil. 
  • Azolla is applied to the soil one week after transplanting when a thick mat forms, trampling to incorporate which supplies 30-40 kg N/ha (Liu et al., 1992). 
  • The results of several field trials in India have shown saving of 20-30 kg N/ha in rice cultivation by applying Azolla (Subba Rao, 1988).
  • It fixes nitrogen due to Anabaena species of blue green algae present in the lobes of Azolla leaves. 

Blue green algae

  • Heterocysts are specialized cell in algal filaments, which act as seats of nitrogen fixation. 
  • The most important species are Anabaena and Nostoc. 
  • The amount of nitrogen fixed by blue green algae is range from 15-45 kg N /ha (Costa et al., 2002). 
  • Standing water of 2-10 cm in the field is a prerequisite for the growth of blue green algae. 
  • It can grow in a temperature range of 20-35oC. 
  • Bright sunshine increases the growth rate while rains and cloudiness slows growth rate. 
  • It grows well in a pH range of 7-8 and in soils high organic matter. 
  • Application of this algae preparation at a rate of 10 kg/ha in rice fields, one week after transplanting is recommended (Dobbelaere et al., 2007). 


  • An associative micro aerophillic nitrogen fixer commonly found in loose association with the roots of cereals is of great interest. 
  • High nitrogen fixation capacity, low energy requirement and abundant establishment in the root of cereals. 
  • Sterilized FYM + soil are used as carriers. 
  • The carrier inoculants are made into slurry and mixed uniformly with seeds, dried in shade and sown. 
  • Azospirillum inoculum is used for sorghum. 
  • Positive interaction between Azospirillum and applied N has been observed in several cereal crops with the effect of Azospirillum being equivalent to 20-30 kg/ha of applied N (Elmerich et al., 1992). 
  • brasilense produced high amount of IAA in culture medium, caused an increase in number and length of lateral roots. 
  • In Indian condition many scientists reported that Azospirillum inoculation enhanced the grain yield of rice 5-25 per cent. 


  • A dominant non-symbiotic free living heterotrophic nitrogen fixing bacteria encountered in neutral to alkaline soil not only provides the nitrogen but produce a variety of growth promoting substances. 
  • Some of these growth-promoting substances are indole acetic acid, gibberellins, B vitamins and antifungal antibiotics substances. 
  • Azotobacter chroococcum is dominant in arable soils and capable of fixing N2 10-15 kg N/ha (Johanna, 1997). 
  • The inoculants can be mixed with FYM and broadcast near the root zone. 
  • From the field experiments carried out in different part of India Azotobacter inoculants have shown to increase the yield by 3-34 % of many crops.
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