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Exploiting Nature for Better Crop Production

CEO Mr. Lloyd Dyck The Research and Development (R&D) division at BrettYoung Seeds Limited, a Canadian based seed company, has been successfully working on naturally occurring beneficial rhizobacteria for increasing the productivity of field crops for the last 10 years. Research development process includes isolation of bacteria from rhizosphere soil; bacteria is then tested in the laboratory and growth room to determine the beneficial effect on plants, identification and safety assessment of selected bacteria, and tested in the field to obtain efficacy data described Dr. Yesmin, Director of the Research and Development division at BrettYoung Seeds.

"Rhizo" means roots and "sphere" means area and general meaning is the area influenced by plant roots. Bacteria that reside in the rhizophere are termed as rhizobacteria explained Dr. Yesmin. Within the soil system, occurrence of microbial density, distribution and activity is generally much higher in the direct proximity of plant root rhizosphere compared to the surrounding soil devoid of root activity. The plant roots influence rhizosphere area via root exudates, secretions and sloughed off root cells that act as a feeding source for microbial habitat as well as the metabolic activity of residing microbes. Rhizosphere microbes include bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, algae, and protozoa. However bacteria are the most abundant among the microscopic life in the soil. Plant microbial interaction is an important phenomenon in the rhizosphere. Some bacteria may cause a detrimental effect e.g., produce diseases but some may exert a beneficial effect on plant growth and development as discussed by Dr. Yesmin. Rhizosphere bacteria that exert a beneficial effect on plants are described as plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR).

At BrettYoung, a dedicated research team is working on the PGPR program in their 9600 sq ft R&D center along with a state of the art biotechnology laboratory. Recently a 3600 sq ft. facility was added as a pilot facility to meet the growth of the R&D programs. Two unique PGPR based products have already been launched, namely BioBoost for canola for the Western Canadian and Northern US markets and BioBoost Plus for soybean for the US market only. "This is very exciting time for BrettYoung" said Mr. Lloyd Dyck, CEO and the co-owner of BrettYoung seeds. "BrettYoung has been in the seed business for the last 75 years and PGPR research is definitely bringing value to our product offering" explained Mr. Dyck.

Alfalfa BioBoost® contains BrettYoung’s patented sulphur (S)-oxidizing rhizobacteria Delftia acidovorans RAY209 isolated from Canadian prairies soil and has shown to have beneficial impact on plant growth and yield. For a PGPR product to be commercially successful, formulation is a key step of the development process. At present, sterile peat powder is used as carrier for BioBoost® for canola seed treatment for the Canadian and US markets. BioBoost® peat is the first PGPR based biological product registered by CFIA in Canada for Canola. An innovative formulation of BioBoost® liquid has recently been launched for the US market to use as foliar applications. The active ingredient of BioBoost®, Delftia acidovorans RAY209 has shown compatibility with different nitrogen (N) fixing Rhizobium bacteria and demonstrated improved root nodulation, shoot and root biomass and yield in soybean, alfalfa and peas in field trials and growth room conditions.

Using the synergy between rhizobium and PGPR, Dr. Yesmin developed the first PGPR based inoculants for soybean and alfalfa. For soybean, BioBoost® Plus, a liquid inoculant product containing N-fixing Bradyrhizobium japonicum and PGPR Delftia acidovorans RAY209 is now available for the US market. For alfalfa, BioBoost® Plus for alfalfa, is a clay based inoculant product containing N-fixing Shinorhizobium meliloti and PGPR Delftia acidovorans RAY209 and is set to be released soon for the US market. The uniqueness of these BioBoost Plus products is the dual benefit from both bacteria and assurance of healthier plants and consistent yields for grower. As many of the soybean or alfalfa fields in North America have shown already established background level of N-fixing rhizobium population, using only rhizobium inoculant may not provide satisfactory yield results for farmers. BioBoost Plus could be a new approach of boosting yield for soybean, alfalfa, peas and other legumes in an environmental friendly way.

Dr. Yesmin’s research is currently exploring the feasibility of developing of other naturally occurring environmentally friendly growth promoter for crops like corn, wheat, turf grasses, etc. She has worked in soil-plant-microbe interaction aspects for last 12 years and has expertise in area of soil microbiology and chemistry, soil fertility and plant nutrition and environmental science. Dr. Yesmin obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland UK. Before joining at BrettYoung Seeds, she held several positions as a researcher and scientist at the University of Manitoba, University of Western Ontario and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. She is also a registered Professional Agrologist and member of many professional societies. Dr. Yesmin holds several patents, written book chapters, published papers in reputed journals and has presented her works in many national and internationals conferences. For more information about her current research she can be contacted at the following address:

Dr. Laila Yesmin, M.Sc., Ph.D., P.Ag.
Director, Research and Development
BrettYoung Seeds
Box 99, St. Norbert Postal Station
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3V 1L5
Office: (204) 261-7932 ext 330
Direct: (204)-478-2629
Cell: (204) 229-3747
Fax: (204) 275-7333
For information regarding PGPR products please visit: www.brettyoung.ca

Article and photographs are courtesy of Laila Yesmin.

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