What makes seeds and spores so efficient

Technical article

Fertilized microorganisms allow roots to grow

The nutrient efficiency increases significantly due to better root development. Specifically: Depending on the crop and the year, he has calculated savings of 30 to 50 percent nitrogen. He was also able to use fungicides and stalk shorteners more sparingly. “And even in drought, the plants lasted longer, which is reflected in the yield,” says Krainbring and gives figures from the drought year 2019: The winter wheat fertilized with microorganisms brought 0.5 to one tonne more yield with 40 percent saved nitrogen. In the case of rapeseed, it was two quintals more yield and two percent more oil with 40 percent less nitrogen.

It is important to him to point out that his attempts “in no way meet the requirements of a scientific consideration”. Still, he says, the tendencies are clear. And with reference to climate change, he wants to gain further experience with this system. “This way, I can perhaps compensate for some of the drought-related lower yields,” Krainbring hopes, adding: “but definitely not everything.” Because if there is no rain, they will help too heavy soils with very high water storage capacity only a little. And irrigation has "not been a realistic option so far" for the 440 ha farm.

After two years of drought, the young farmer is certain that water is becoming a scarce commodity. Last year there was just 350 millimeters of precipitation compared to the otherwise not exactly lush 550 millimeters. A few years ago, for example in 2016, these quantities fell relatively reliably from the sky. In the end, the combine brought home 11.5 tons of winter wheat per hectare. In the extremely dry 2019 it was only 6.5 tons. "A 30 to 50 percent loss of earnings depending on the crop and area, that really hurts," is Krainbring's dubious balance sheet of the past year.

Krainbring is not only breaking new ground with the use of microorganisms as fertilizer, he is also keen to experiment with seed treatment. His maize pickle is already "100 percent chemical-free", and he is on the way to getting grain. In this process, the seeds are only treated electrically. "The fungal pathogens attached to the seeds are killed by electron bombardment," explains the farmer, "the shell is then clinically clean".

However, the spores in the seed, such as those from the grain brandy, are not recorded. Here, Krainbring sees the need for the seed industry in particular to lay the foundation for healthy seeds.

This deficit is supposed to compensate for a nutrient pickling with bio-stimulants. Although they do not act directly against the electron-stable pathogens, they create optimal starting conditions for the young plants. "This strengthens the immune system," explains Krainbring. Joint experiments with the main cooperative in Kiel seem to support his theory. "The emergence behavior and youth development are visibly better," he cautiously summarizes the first results. They encourage him to try the alternative methods that also include compost tea. In terms of operations, he still has room for improvement: So far, 40 hectares of his 160 hectares of winter wheat have been treated this way.