The beneficial bacteria adhere to every seed in certain batches, after special seed treatment. “This is no coincidence, but the result of targeted processes during the pilling and seed treatment processes—and a lot of research work,” said Ralf Tilcher. He is responsible for the KWS “Biologicals” interdisciplinary workgroup. “In dry years and on marginal soil, bacteria can increase yield.” In view of these successes, the bacteria could therefore be used in the future with even more sugarbeet varieties.
Bacteria as valued helpers
Bacteria have become valued helpers of KWS and farmers because these beneficial organisms have developed untold capabilities in the course of evolution. They fix nitrogen from the air or produce plant growth hormones. After a long series of experiments, Tilcher and his colleagues are using a combination of different strains of bacteria, which they then incorporate into the orange sugarbeet seed pellet after special encapsulation.
Helpful army of one billion
After sowing in moist soil, these beneficial bacteria multiply very quickly to a billion helpers and develop their positive effect. Thanks to their large numbers, they occupy the seedbed environment and the growing root much faster than competing, often plant-damaging microbes.
This has several advantages: Firstly, the beneficial bacteria occupy the same place on the seeds and roots. Pests have fewer nutrients. In addition, bacteria can produce metabolic products that provide seedlings with protection against the cold, drought, high salt content of the soil or against harmful fungi. Last but not least, apart from the known nodular bacteria of legumes, there are other microorganisms that fix nitrogen and thus open up an additional nutrient source for the plant.