A discussion on the market size must first start with how microbes work, and what they affect when they do what we want them to do. Scientists call the community of bacteria, viruses and fungi living in and around all plants the microbiome. The farming processes and applications that dramatically boosted agricultural productivity in the mid-20th century were based on massive inputs of fertilizer, pesticides and water to meet the goal. This approach worked well, but left a trail of environmental devastation that has proven to have promoted atmospheric anomalies, polluted waterways and drained aquifers. Adversely, the microbial revolution aims instead to take advantage of what is already there, as many as 40,000 microbe species in a single gram of soil, that are continuously working symbiotically with the environment. Until recently, this microbial community—what might be called the “agribiome”—was largely a mystery. But over the past decade low-cost DNA sequencing, and other technological processes have opened the secret world of microbes.
Botanists can now identify every member of the microbial community that surrounds a plant. By doing so, they have begun to understand how various microbes behave in different seasons, soil environments, and have even started devising ways to combine, and apply them to help plants grow significantly better. Sorting out this wealth of new information to help farmers grow better crops seems particularly urgent, given the vast challenges that agriculture now faces… the global water shortage, extreme and unpredictable weather events, worries over the sustainability of nitrogen fertilizer produced with fossil fuels, their effects on the environment and the expectation that mankind will need to feed an extra two billion people by midcentury.
A few of the benefits of using members of the agribiome community to advance a crop include the creation of considerable amounts of nitrogen and phosphate that enhance plant growth, primarily in the rhizome (root level), the stabilization of plant cell membranes for enhanced drought and pathogen resistance and the significant effect on soil enrichment. The fact is, there is NOT a crop grown on planet Earth that Fertile Ground cannot have a conclusive and impressive result upon. However, some types plants see quicker, and greater results. Because we can impact the rhizome so greatly, Fertile Ground focus is on those crops where “quicker and greater” results occur. Some examples would be in the vast vegetable category, as well as in berries, melons, rice, coffee, pineapples… etc. Overall, our effectiveness is in showing the grower an advantageous economic return in the entirety of cash crops, but we see a definite advantage where the crop is not grown as, and the price is not dictated (traded) in the fashion of a large-scale commodity like row crops (ie: corn and wheat).