Microbial-based Biostimulant Call-in Conversations

2020 Conversations

New Resource for Understanding Microbial Biostimulants in the Grower’s Toolbox

VPSL’s Dr. Matt Kleinhenz discussed microbial biostimulants in vegetable crop production on the Great Lakes Vegetable Producer’s Network (GLVPN) weekly round table discussion series, July 8, 2020. Learn more about the GLVPN by visiting their website and find more recordings from the series HERE. New live discussions for commercial vegetable producers every Wednesday at 12:30pm EST via Zoom through early September 2020.


2017 and 2018 Call Series

Review the summaries and listen to the recordings of six conference calls (3 each year) focused on key topics related to selecting, using, and evaluating the performance of microbial biostimulants. The open-forum, call-in conversations involved people from around the U.S. having a range of experiences and questions. 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).

Each call separately addresses practical issues in the selection, use, and evaluation of these inputs and includes a panel of experts to frame the issues and answer your questions. Have a question related to the topics? Feel free to submit questions to vegebiostimsferts@gmail.com.


2018 Call-in Conversation Series: Building capacity for best use of microbial-based biostimulants/biofertilizers in organic and sustainable vegetable production.

March 21, 2018: Selecting microbial-based biostimulants/biofertilizers using a farm-centered approach
The number of microbial-based biostimulant/biofertilizer products on the market can be overwhelming, especially since there is so little practical guidance available on how to select one. What is the best way to match the needs of your system with the claims and capabilities of available products? During the call we aimed to look at decision-making based on four areas of knowledge to equip growers to identify their best options: 1) the setting, size, and management of the farm, 2) factors that limit microbial viability and activity, 3) categories of microbes and their general modes of action, and 4) effects these products have on plants. To learn more and hear the conversation, visit the link below.

Panel: Jeff Anderson (Mycorrhizal Applications), Mike Austin (Agrinos), Alison Bennett (The Ohio State University), Tim Coolong (University of Georgia), Philippe Douillet (EcoMicrobials), David Holden (Holden Research and Consulting), John Kempf (Advancing Eco Agriculture)

April 18, 2018: Using microbial-based biostimulants/biofertilizers: tactics to maximize their potential benefits
Inoculating with microbial-based biostimulants/biofertilizers is very different than applying fertilizers, amendments, pesticides, and other inputs. Rather than inert substances, these products are full of microscopic organisms that need moisture, food, and habitat to function, grow, and reproduce. Within the soil and on or near plant roots, they play different roles within the food web, many of which can directly or indirectly benefit the crops we grow by helping them optimize necessary resources. What is needed to successfully introduce microbial biostimulants/biofertilizers to your cropping system no matter the application method? Environmental conditions, equipment, food sources, and compatibility with other inputs will be addressed. Opportunity for on-farm participatory research using these products will be presented.

Panel: Ute Albrecht (University of Florida), Mike Austin (Agrinos), John Kempf (Advancing Eco Agriculture), Jozsef Racsko (Mycorrhizal Applications)

May 16, 2018: Evaluating the value of microbial-based biostimulants/biofertilizers on your farm
Microbial-based biostimulants/biofertilizers are applied with the goal of improving crop production and quality. As an added input, they cost money and time to select and use. How can you measure the value of their contribution to your farming system and economic bottom line? With the help of an agricultural economist, and experts in plant-soil interactions and crop physiology, this call-in conversation will cover how observation, record-keeping, and simple comparisons can be used to evaluate their short and long-term value based on your goals.

Panel: M. Soledad Benitez Ponce (The Ohio State University), Subbu Kumarappan (The Ohio State University, Agricultural Technical Institute), Bonnie Ownley (The University of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture), Andy Radin (The University of Rhode Island)

2017 Call-in Conversation Series

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 the conversation and please indicate if the recording will be useful to you. Summaries and recordings of Calls 2 and 3 are available below.

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 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.