Soil is considered fertile, if it is able to provide optimal conditions for the growth and development of plants and other soil organisms. Soil must be understood as a complex system with physical, chemical and biological properties that are of paramount importance for optimal crop development. Fertility itself is the result of the interaction between the physico-chemical and biological properties of the soil.
For the correct development of any crop, it is necessary that the soil in which it grows has, in addition to other parameters, the necessary nutrients or, if not, it will be necessary to provide them exogenously in the form of fertiliser.
The elements most in demand by agricultural crops are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which are involved in plant growth, flowering and fruiting. Due to this continuous demand, soils are often deficient in these elements over a period of time. Fertilisers are used to supply these elements in addition to other elements in order to make up for this deficiency and at the same time allow for a more intensive use in order to obtain higher yields. It is necessary to achieve a balance between the extraction of nutrients from the soil by the crops and the external supply or internal generation by micro-organisms. The nutrient balance results from the difference between the amount of nutrients entering and leaving the agrosystem. We normally consider this balance in the soil layer explored by the roots in annual periods.
Currently, an annual consumption of about 7 billion tons of fertilisers is being produced worldwide, an average of 137 kh/Hectare (https://datos.bancomundial.org). Moreover, this consumption is increasing at a rate of about 2% per year, which generates several problems, such as the pollution of soils and aquifers by the indiscriminate use of these fertilisers, salinisation of soils or the pollution generated during the production process of these fertilisers, such as the emission of greenhouse gases.
Hence, soil improvement is a fundamental pillar of 21st century agriculture, an agriculture that must combine sustainability and economic profitability. With this objective, Clean-Biotec has among its main lines of research, the maintenance of soil fertility by reducing or eliminating fertilisers of industrial origin and replacing them with biofertilisers based on autochthonous microorganisms and mycorrhizae incorporated in organic matter, and thus achieving a balance between the nutrients removed by the crops and those incorporated in organic matter or generated by microorganisms.
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