Microbial Inoculants for Optimized Plant Nutrient Use in Integrated Pest and Input Management Systems
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The use of fertilizers and pesticides has greatly increased agricultural productivity over the past few decades. However, there is still an ongoing search for additional or alternate tools that can proffer agricultural sustainability and meet the needs of profitability and greater food production for the growing world population. This review examines the enhancement of plant nutrient use efficiency derived from interactions of the diverse microorganisms that live in and around plants such as plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) and mycorrhizal fungi. These microorganisms form the major bases of the biorational sector of the agriculture industry which has exploded in the last few years with the production of many new microbial inoculant products and the improvement of existing products. Microbial inoculants cannot replace chemical fertilizers now or in the immediate future; thus this review discusses the concept of integrated pest and input management (IPIM), compatibility of inoculants with existing chemicals, and efficacy issues associated with biologicals. Also discussed are inoculant products, the conditions that may affect their success, the untapped potentials for agriculture, and the possible impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.