Welcome to Our Bugs in a Jug Webpage

… Your Portal to reliable Research- and Experience-based Information regarding Microbial-based Biofertilizers (MBBFs) and their Use in Commercial Vegetable Production

The team responsible for this page will offer resources to help commercial vegetable growers, especially sustainable-organic, make the best use of MBBFs. However, as a grower, MBBF manufacturer or supplier, grower advisor, researcher, educator, agricultural journalist, or organizational representative, you can help. The shared goal is to improve the reliability with which MBBFs are selected, used, and evaluated. Some approaches to meet this goal are listed below.

Join the MBBF listserv (http://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/microbial_inoculants_in_vegpro/) to start, contribute to, or learn from conversations with others interested in these important products.

Check out online MBBF databases (http://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/links/microbe-containing-bioproducts/) and submit feedback on their improvement. MBBF manufacturers, especially, are encouraged to provide links to reports describing the performance of their products.

Review the summaries and listen to the recordings of three recent conference calls focused on key topics related to selecting, using, and evaluating the performance of MBBFs. The open-forum, call-in conversations involved people from around the U.S. and having a range of experiences with and questions about MBBFs. In fact, the conversations provided solid foundational information while also offering people experienced with these products a fresh look at them. The calls were moderated by Dr. Matt Kleinhenz (The OSU-OARDC).

Call-in Conversation 1 was held on January 24, 2017. More than twenty people from at least eight U.S. states (AL, NY, VA, WA, OH, OR, TN, and WI), and having little to a lot of experience with MBBFs and different occupations (e.g., grower, grower advisor, researcher, product manufacturer, and association representative) participated in the conversation. They and the five resource people (Steve Becker and Dennis Warnecke – Tainio Biologicals, Inc., Dr. Brian McSpadden Gardener – Sustane Natural Fertilizer, Inc., Dr. Zheng Wang – The OSU/OARDC, and Julie Laudick, M.S. – Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association) offered valuable observations, advice, and questions. Most of the discussion covered these topics: 1) distinguishing crop biostimulants from other related products (e.g., biopesticides), including with information given on product labels and by company representatives; 2) the types and general function of crop biostimulants; 3) how MBBFs work; and 4) how to keep these products in good condition after buying and when applying them. They also weighed in with opinions on whether crop biostimulants can be useful. Click below to listen to a recording of their conversation and please indicate if the recording will be useful to you. Summaries and recordings of Calls 2 and 3 are available below; please review if desired.

Call-in 1 Click Here if You Found this Useful

Call-in Conversation 2 was held on February 8, 2017. Sixteen people having various levels of experience with MBBFs and different occupations, and representing ten U.S. States (CA, FL, GA, NY, OH, RI, TN, VA, WA, and WI) participated in the conversation. Four resource people (Steve Becker and Dennis Warnecke – Tainio Biologicals, Inc., Dr. Philippe Douillet – Ecomicrobials, LLC., and Dr. Jozsef Racsko – Mycorrhizal Applications, Inc.) shared their informed opinions, offered valuable advice, and answered concerned questions. Topics covered during the call included: 1) publicly available data on product performance, 2) advice advisors can give to growers as they begin to use these products, and 3) “take-home” suggestions for how to get the most from using MBBFs, regardless of a person’s experience with them. Click below to listen to a recording of the conversation and please indicate if it will be helpful to you.

Call-in 2 Click Here if You Found this Useful

Call-in Conversation 3 was held on March 10, 2017. Four resource people (Bruce Caldwell – 3-Bar Biologics, Inc., Dr. Carol Goland – Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Dr. Bonnie Ownley – University of Tennessee, and Dr. Subbu Kumarappan – The OSU-Agricultural Technical Institute) and more than fifteen registrants representing eleven U.S. states (CA, CO, FL, GA, NC, NY, OH, OR, RI, VA, and WA) participated in the call. Discussion covered: 1) synthesizing information to prioritize tactics for selecting, using, and evaluating MBBFs, and 2) getting this and other information to people who need it in order to increase their success with these products. Click below to listen to a recording of the conversation and please indicate if it will be helpful to you.

Call-in 3 Click Here if You Found this Useful

Project Team


Matthew_Keinhenz Christopher_Taylor Subbu_Kumarappan Bonnie_Ownley
Matthew Kleinhenz
Vegetable Extension Specialist
The Ohio State University
Christopher Taylor
Plant Pathology
The Ohio State University
Subramanian Kumarappan
The Ohio State University
Bonnie Ownley
Plant Pathology
University of Tennessee
Zheng_Wang Stephanie_Short Carol_Goland
Zheng Wang
Postdoctoral Researcher
The Ohio State University
(330)202-3555 ext. 2717
Stephanie Short
Program Assistant
The Ohio State University
(330)202-3555 ext. 2687
Carol Goland
Executive Director
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association
(614)421-2022 ext. 202

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Organic Transitions Program under award Number 2016-51106-25714 and also under award number 2016-38640-25381 through the North Central Region SARE program under subaward number LNC16-380. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Project team members Kleinhenz, Taylor, and Wang also contribute to the Microbial-based Solutions for Agriculture (MBSA) Team within the OSU Center for Applied Plant Sciences.


Our Journal Articles
What is in Your Microbial-based Crop Fertilizer
Getting the Most From Microbe-containing Crop Biostimulants
Microbial-based Biostimulants: Big Potential in Small Packages
Microbial Biostimulants in Grower Toolboxes

Online Tools

Microbe-containing Bioproducts Database

Microbial-based Biofertilizers in Vegetable Production ListServ

Other Websites

Organic Farming Research Network