Microbial coatings of seeds are systemic and economical approach for delivery biologicals to fields. This approach offers efficient delivery of beneficial microbes close to the root zone, where they can colonize and promote nutrient uptake as well as offer protection against seed borne pathogens and pests. Direct application of biologicals to the seeds reduce the amount carrier materials used and hence minimum burden on soil. The commercialization of this methodology is hindered by poor shelf life of the microbes, their compatibility with chemical pesticides and insecticides and loss of viable cells during coating process.
µ-bead is patented technology for enhancing the shelf life and chemical compatibility of microbes making it ideal for seed inoculation. µ-beads are microbes enclosed in a biocompatible layer, when applied, releases microbes in a controlled form. Their controlled release property allows microbes to be formulated with growth simulants and fungicides, which otherwise could affect their compatibility. µ-beads also maintain the physical stability of microbes for up to 2 years. The µ-beads minimize water loss from microbes when blended with carrier material thus improving the shelf life of the microbes.
Figure 1: µ-bead showing microbes (blue) enclosed in a protective layer (yellow).
The shelf life of conventional bio-fertilizers (uncoated or naked cells) has product shelf life of 9 months with minimum cell count of 106 cfu/g of product, whereas, the µ-beads has a shelf life of 2 years with minimum cell count of 107 cfu/g of product.
Figure 3: Seed coating process