Manual seeks to ensure quality in the production of bioinputs for agriculture

Authored by analyst Eduara Ferreira and researchers Marco Antonio Nogueira and Mariangela Virgínia, the manual will be launched during Tecnoshow, on April 9

02.04.2024 | 15:01 (UTC -3)
Lebna Landgraf

A survey by the National Association of Inoculant Producers and Importers (ANPII) reveals opportunities, in Brazil, for the growth in the adoption and development of inoculants, an input with microorganisms with activities beneficial to agriculture. In the 22/23 soybean harvest, for example, inoculants with Bradyrhizobium bacteria were used in 85% of the cultivated area, while coinoculation (joint use of Bradyrhizobium and Azospirillum) was used in around 35% of the crop area in the country , showing the advancement of this technology. In this context, Embrapa Soja is launching the Bioinput Analysis Manual for Agricultural Use: Inoculants, which addresses the different aspects of quality control in the production of these bioinputs.

The Manual, authored by analyst Eduara Ferreira and researchers Marco Antonio Nogueira and Mariangela Virgínia, who work at the Soil Biotechnology Laboratory at Embrapa Soja, in Londrina-PR, will be launched during Tecnoshow, a fair held from April 8th to 12th , in Rio Verde (GO), by the Comigo cooperative. The launch is scheduled to take place on April 9th, at 11 am, in auditorium 2, when researcher Mariangela Virgínia will give a lecture on the use of biologicals in soybean cultivation.

 The publication presents detailed content, with step-by-step methods and analysis, with educational images for the evaluation of microbial inoculants. “Our objective is to provide a reference enriched with illustrations and a detailed description of inoculant analysis methods, facilitating the assessment of the quality of these products”, explain researchers Mariangela Virgínia and Marco Antonio Nogueira. 

According to current Brazilian legislation, inoculants are substances that contain microorganisms that favor plant development. “The methods described in the Manual standardize inoculant analysis, based on current regulations in Brazilian legislation. The contents and illustrations present in the Manual facilitate the understanding of each stage of the analysis, as several procedures need to be followed carefully”, explains Eduara.

“It is worth highlighting that the illustrations of the typical growth of the bacteria of interest, provided in the Manual, are intended to assist in the interpretation of the results”, he highlights. The methods described are accepted and validated nationally and internationally and officially recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (Mapa). To edit the Manual, microorganisms recommended or authorized for use in inoculants by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock were used, comprising the genera: Azospirillum, Bradyrhizobium, Bacillus, Mesorhizobium, Priestia, Pseudomonas and Rhizobium.

However, in order for these products to increase crop productivity, improve soil quality and environmental safety, the authors of the Manual warn of the need to use good quality bio-inputs. “In the case of inoculants, quality includes the use of microorganisms recognized as efficient by Brazilian research, in adequate concentration and without contaminants. Quality must be guaranteed from manufacturing to the moment of use by the farmer”, they reinforce.

In the authors' view, the Manual presents relevant content for the industry, which needs to guarantee the maintenance of the desired properties in the products developed. Furthermore, the Manual can also benefit cooperatives, resellers and farmers who are increasingly looking for laboratories capable of checking the quality of bio-inputs. "We also hope that the Manual collaborates with the adequate training of human resources, which may allow the accreditation of new laboratories for the analysis of inoculants, particularly in regions where the largest grain production is concentrated, such as the Central-West” , they say.   

Bioinputs in Brazil

Brazil has more than half a century of tradition in research, technological and industrial development, legislation and extension activities related to the use of biological inputs in agriculture. Thanks to this history, Brazil is a world leader in benefits from the use of bio-inputs classified as inoculants, in total or partial replacement of nitrogenous chemical fertilizers.

“In soybean cultivation alone, more than 25 billion dollars are saved annually through the use of inoculants with nitrogen-fixing bacteria”, reports Mariangela. “For the benefits to reach the farmer, however, it is essential to have access to high-quality products, containing microorganisms recognized as efficient by Brazilian research, in adequate concentration and without contaminants”, she states. The quality assessment of these products is carried out through scientifically validated analyzes and recognized by official bodies.

The "Bioinput Analysis Manual for Agricultural Use: Inoculants" was prepared by the team at Embrapa Soja's Soil Biotechnology Laboratory, which is responsible for prospecting and launching microorganisms and technologies related to promoting plant growth. One of the main technologies recommended by the team is the annual coinoculation of soybeans with Bradyrhizobium spp. and Azospirillum brasilense, in addition to the inoculation of A. brasilense in corn, wheat and pastures and co-inoculation of beans.

The team at this Laboratory has also sought to improve quality for the provision of services to the public and private sectors. In this context, Embrapa Soja registered the laboratory with the Ministry of Agriculture for the analysis of inoculants and its collection was approved as a germplasm bank of microorganisms of agricultural interest for distribution for the production of inoculants by the industry. Furthermore, the laboratory is Mapa's quarantine station, post-entry of microorganisms for use as inoculants, and the only public research laboratory with inoculant tests accredited by the General Accreditation Coordination of Inmetro, in ISO 17025. 

“We value the development of research with biological inputs to replace or complement chemical inputs”, argues Alexandre Nepomuceno, general manager of Embrapa Soja. “Support for research with biological inputs led to the recognition of Embrapa Soja as one of the main leaders, both in the biological control of pests and diseases, and in the development of technologies related to biological nitrogen fixation and other microbial processes that contribute to nutrition and plant growth”, highlights Nepomuceno.  

National programs for agriculture and environment

In view of the search for sustainable agri-food and environmental solutions, three plans or programs related to agriculture were launched by the Brazilian government, one of which is directly related to bio-inputs. In 2020, the National Bioinputs Program was created to strengthen the use of bioinputs in the country. “Among the actions proposed by the government, via the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, is the publication of good practice manuals to be followed by bioinput producing units, as well as the promotion and application of good production practices through training and qualification , ensuring continuous and sustainable improvement in the use of these products”, explain the authors of the publication.

In 2021, the National Fertilizer Plan (PNF) was launched aiming to strengthen policies to increase the competitiveness of production and distribution of fertilizers in Brazil in a sustainable way, including the bioinputs market. Finally, in 2022, Brazil established the Sector Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change and Low Carbon Emissions in Agriculture – ABC+ for the period 2020-2030, with the objective of adopting sustainable systems, practices, products and production processes, with the commitment to expand the area with the adoption of bioinputs by 13 million hectares.

“Given the prospect of increased use of bio-inputs, it is necessary that monitoring the quality of these products, including the inoculants category, be carried out appropriately by research, industries, biofactories, service provision laboratories and those in charge of official analyzes of inspection”, says Eduara. “The evaluation and quality control of inoculants represent a guarantee tool for verifying whether the specified quality requirements are being met”, she argues.

Mosaic Biosciences March 2024