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Maximizing Phosphate Efficiency

Maximizing Phosphate Efficiency
Posted: February 17, 2021
Author: NexusBioAg Source: NexusBioAg #canola #inoculant #bioniq #tagteam #jumpstart #tagteambioniq

Phosphate is one of the critical building blocks of plant development. Without the presence of phosphate in the soil, plants are unable to develop and thrive. Insufficient phosphate not only stunts plant growth but also impedes plants from reaching optimum yield potential. 

Phosphate is key for: 

  • Quick Emergence
  • Promotes Early Root Formation and Root Growth
  • Early Vigour
  • Hastens Maturity
  • Quality
  • Yield

On average, Canadian soils contain approximately 1,000 lb of phosphate/ac (ranging from 400 to 2,000 lb/ac). However, phosphate is the second most limiting nutrient, next to nitrogen, and recommendations to apply phosphate are made on over 90% of cereal, oilseed, and pulse crops.

How are plant-available phosphate levels low even when total soil phosphate is very high? This happens because phosphate quickly binds to other elements in the soil, specifically calcium, magnesium, iron, and aluminum, making it unavailable for plants to use. 


Did you know, only 10–30% of applied phosphate fertilizer is available to the crop within the year of application? With up to 90% of the applied phosphate fertilizer becoming unavailable to the crop in the year of application as it gets bound to soil particles and other elements. Over subsequent years 50-75% of the applied phosphate fertilizer will become available and used by the crop, which means 25% will never become available.It is crucial to make the most efficient use of fertilizer phosphate as without phosphate a crop’s yield potential is not realized. 

1. Source: Better Crops Vol. 86 (2002, No.4), International Plant Nutrition Institute (formerly: Potash and Phosphate Institute).


Early Season Availability 

This yield-building nutrient is required by the crop in the first 6 weeks, as phosphate provides energy to the plant to enhance root growth and development. Cool soils, common under direct seeding or early seeding conditions, mean phosphate is less available to plants. If early season phosphate availability is limited, it can reduce early-season growth and, ultimately, crop yield. 

When phosphate is limited, these early spring conditions, including cool soils, are more difficult on plants. Plants with larger healthy root systems can better withstand a variety of stresses such as drought and weed pressure. Healthy root systems help plants access moisture and nutrients more efficiently.

Phosphorous moves in the soil by a process known as diffusion. Therefore, the placement of phosphorous near the seed-row, and the improved availability of phosphorous with biological inoculants, is critical to the crop during early growth.


The Nitrogen Factor

While phosphate is the second most limiting, nitrogen is the most limiting nutrient. Phosphate uptake is crucial to the nitrogen fixation process, as proper plant development must take place before the plant can take advantage of the full benefits of nitrogen fixation. Adequate phosphate is necessary to support rapid root development—the larger the root system, the more area exists for nodules to form. But phosphate shortage doesn’t just affect the roots—a shortage of phosphate also impedes optimum development above ground. Phosphate deficiency affects all the structures of the plant, which means a lack of phosphate has a significant impact on the yield potential of your crops.


Phosphorous Deficiency Symptoms

Slow and stunted growth is the most significant symptom. Older leaves suffer first, with an overall delayed maturity. In cereal crops, reduced root development and tillering are evidenced. In some crops, reddish-purple to pinkish colour may be noticed.​​​​​




How to Maximize Phosphate Availability?

As demonstrated in the graphs below compiled by the University of Manitoba, Penicillium bilaiae, one of the active ingredients in BioniQ®, JumpStart®, TagTeam® and TagTeam BioniQ® inoculants, increase the availability of phosphate, resulting in increased uptake by the plant.



The soil fungus Penicillium bilaiae releases the ionic bond between soil compounds and valuable orthophosphate ions, freeing up the phosphate for the benefit of the plant. Because the soil fungus colonizes along with the roots of the plant, it ensures that once the phosphate is free from the soil, it’s in the right place for the plant to uptake the phosphate immediately. 

Penicillium bilaiae and NexusBioAg's Portfolio of Products

Our new inoculant BioniQ contains the biological active Penicillium bilaiae (P. bilaiae), along with the two other critical biological actives - Bacillus amyloliquefaciens and Trichoderma virens which help increase availability of phosphate as well as nitrogen and potassium supporting root and shoot growth.

Its ability to release nutrients from the soil helps maximize the effectiveness of your inputs and improve your yield potential.

BioniQ increases yield and performance over a wide range of geographic locations and field conditions.​

JumpStart also contains P. bilaiae. While P. bilaiae does not eliminate the need for phosphate fertilizer, it provides crops access to more soil and fertilizer phosphate for higher yield potential.

The rhizobia in TagTeam inoculants combined with P. bilaiae work together to create a unique value equation, ensuring balanced nutrition of both phosphate and nitrogen.

TagTeam BioniQ is the next generation granular inoculant that combines five biological actives to maximize your pulse crop performance. A specially selected rhizobium strain and the proven performance of LCO (lipochitooligosaccharide) technology, combined with the phosphate-solubilizing benefits of P. bilaiae and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens and Trichoderma virens for increased availability and uptake of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium.​

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