Little Helpers

How microbes can bring us into the future

Published online: Jun 23, 2020 Articles, Fertilizer Alan Tran
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This article appears in the July 2020 issue of Potato Grower.

In order to address increased food demand from the world’s rapidly growing population, farmers are constantly under pressure to increase yields while keeping costs low. Farmers have historically relied on the age-old solution of adding more fertilizers year after year in an attempt to increase yield. However, the agriculture community has come to the realization that mass chemical application over an extended period may lead to more challenges in the future, including environmental damage, pesticide resistance within pests, and low soil productivity.

The arrival of new technologies allows farmers to leverage beneficial microbes to grow healthy plants, and the resulting increases in yield translate to increased profit for farmers. Every gram of healthy soil contains hundreds of thousands of different microbial species—the stuff of life. Without microbes in our soil, plant growth never reaches its fullest potential. Microbes provide a foundation for the soil’s biological ecosystem, and their population provides an accurate measure of ecosystem health and productivity.

Plant-Grow’s AGN supercharges soil with naturally occurring microbes that help plants grow to their fullest potential. This technology consists of an extensive microbiome filled with a selection of highly complex microbial functional traits that focus on creating a lively soil and bacterial soil disease management. The naturally occurring members of the population are selected and iteratively bred to provide a high density of microbes to optimize the promotion of plant growth, yield and quality. AGN packs a highly dense population of beneficial microorganisms that are ready for use by farmers. 

The potato is one of America’s most popular vegetables. Every year, Americans consume an average of about 125 pounds of potatoes per person. While microbes can be added at any time during the various stages of growth, they are most effective when deployed at the sprout development stage and/or the vegetative growth stage, where they greatly advance root development. AGN’s microbes are designed to be soil-applied so that they come in direct contact with the roots for efficient uptake into the plant. They facilitate root growth, which results in efficient movement of nutrients upward from the roots to other parts of the plant, including rapidly developing tubers. Microbial supplements can improve soil condition, increase nutrient efficiency, strengthen roots, reduce dependency on chemical fertilizer programs, and augment micronutrient uptake, resulting in a higher-quality crop and increased yield.

Like all things, the timing of microbial application can be a big factor in success. It is best to apply the microbes as early as possible and prior to hook. This is the growth phase of the tuber when microbial supplements have the most impact on healthy tuber development.  During sprout development, the sprout develops from eyes on seed tubers and grows upward to emerge from the soil. The microbes help the emerging sprout roots absorb nutrients more efficiently, reducing residual runoff into streams and lakes. During the vegetative growth period, leaves and stems develop from aboveground nodes along emerging sprouts. The AGN-enhanced roots and stolons develop at below-ground nodes for photosynthesis. The use of microbial supplements contributes to healthy soils that contain microbes necessary for preventing disease, reducing plant stress and restoring nutrients.

Microbes are one of the most important elements of healthy soil, and conscientious producers will take advantage of the many benefits offered by microbes and biostimulants that encourage plant growth and nutrient-rich soil ecosystems. This advancement has enabled farm business to be more profitable, sustainable, efficient and safe.

Depending on the crop, AGN has shown to increase yields by 10 to 35 percent. Plant-Grow has a risk-free trial program to show growers the importance of beneficial microbes. In this innovative program, farmers pay half up front, and if the trial shows a positive return on investment, the farmers pay the rest. If there is no ROI, Plant-Grow will refund the money.

With the next generation of microbial supplements, farmers are assured of high crop yield, minimal fertilizer runoff, greater efficiency, and reduced ecological and environmental impact. All producers should consider the power of microbes inoculating our soil, helping to overcome many of the challenges we face in our current agricultural systems.


Alan Tran is an agricultural analyst with Plant-Grow, Inc. Growers can learn more about Plant-Grow’s trial program and “yogurt for plants” microbial solutions, visit