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How does the war between Russia and Ukraine influence the sustainability of Brazilian agriculture?

By Julia Helena Galante

Russia and Belarus are among the main exporters of potassium chloride (KCl) in the world, together with Canada and China, representing 80% of world production of the input (CEPEA/ESALQ-USP).

Despite being an agricultural power, Brazil is not self-sufficient in potassium chloride and is dependent on imports for most of what it consumes. To give you an idea, in 2021, Brazil imported 41.6 million tons of chemical fertilizers or fertilizers, an investment of US$ 15.1 billion. Of this total, 23.3$ came from Russia and 3.36% from Belarus (Comex Stat, Ministry of Economy).

With the current situation in the countries, it is possible to infer that the sanctions are strong and tend to make Russian exports unfeasible, resulting in a crisis of global shortage of fertilizer (StoneX Consulting). Therefore, several studies are conducted on the potential of microorganisms for biosolubilization of potassium and its impacts on crop productivity.

A good substitute for imported potassium chloride is the use of microorganisms in the soil, since it can be found in small minerals in the soil, according to researchers. Microorganisms perform several functions that influence crops, such as promoting plant growth and improving nutrient and water uptake by plants. With the analysis of microorganisms in the soil – the so-called Metagenomic technique – it is possible to enable, in addition to improving soil fertility, the rational use of fertilizers, especially potassium.

Studies indicate the activity of potassium solubilizing microorganisms – biosolubilization of potassium minerals – as decomposed organic substances or minerals solubilized by microorganisms, with the potassium content released in forms available by plants (Meena et al., 2016; Sadusky et al., 1987 ; Singh et al., 1997). With studies of the soil microbiota, it is possible to enable the absorption of potassium by the plants, that is, allowing the biosolubilization of potassium by the microorganisms.

The application of biofertilizers based on potassium solubilizing microorganisms can enhance the use of gradual release potassium sources or even reduce the use of chemical fertilizers (Da Silva, 2013; Meena et al., 2016; Zhao et al., 2013) , generating benefits not only for the crop, but also for Brazil, encouraging sustainability practices.

The promotion of biological activity is a tool to improve soil fertility, promoting the development of beneficial microbial communities to favor the availability of potassium in the soil and reduce costs with the application of potassium fertilizers, mostly imported. In other words, it is an opportunity to make sustainable agriculture viable in Brazil.

In addition to promoting environmental sustainability, by discouraging the exploration of mineral deposits that cause various impacts on the environment and intercontinental exports that would generate the emission of greenhouse gasses; social by not reaching people who live in regions with exploration deposits; and economical by investing in technology and innovation that will bring greater returns and benefits to the crop.

GenomaA is an alternative in this coming fertilizer crisis. We performed soil analysis to verify the diversity and quality of the microbial community, as well as the presence of microorganisms beneficial to nutrient and organic matter cycling processes, having the potential to specify important bioindicators of quality. We offer environmental genomics analyses, from the identification of microorganisms to their functionality.

Think DNA. Think GenomaA.

Sources:

MEENA, Vijay Singh, MAURYA, Bihari Ram, VERMA, Jay Prakash, et al. (ed.). Potassium solubilizing microorganisms for sustainable agriculture. New Delhi : Springer, 2016.

SADUSKY, M. C., SPARKS, D. L., NOLL, M. R., et al. Kinetics and mechanisms of potassium release from sandy Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 1987, vol. 51, no 6, p. 1460-1465.

SILVA, Valéria Nogueira da. Interação de microrganismos na solubilização de fósforo e potássio de rochas para produção de biofertilizantes. 2013.

SINGH GAHOONIA, Tara, CARE, Debbie, et NIELSEN, Niels Erik. Root hairs and phosphorus acquisition of wheat and barley cultivars. Plant and Soil, 1997, vol. 191, no 2, p. 181-188.

ZHAO, Fei, SHENG, Xiafang, HUANG, Zhi, et al. Isolation of mineral potassium-solubilizing bacterial strains from agricultural soils in Shandong Province. Biodiversity Science, 2008, vol. 16, no 6, p. 593.

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