Although the potential utilization rate of solar energy by agricultural crops has been estimated theoretically at between 10 and 20%, the actual utilization rate is usually less than 1%. Even some C4 plants, such as sugarcane, with very high photosynthetic efficiencies, will seldom exceed a utilization rate of 6 or 7% during the maximum growth period. The utilization rate is normally less than 3% even for optimum crop yields.
Past studies have shown that photosynthetic efficiency of the chloroplasts of host crop plants cannot be increased much further; this means that their biomass production has reached a maximum leve 1. Therefore, the best opportunity for increasing biomass production is to somehow utilize the visible light, which chloroplasts cannot presently use, and the infrared radiation; together, these comprise about 80% of the total solar energy. Also, we must explore ways of recycling organic energy contained in soybean crops, corn crops, and alfalfa crops through direct utilization of organic molecules by plants (Higa and Wididana, 1991a).
Thus, it is difficult to exceed the existing limits of crop production unless the efficiency of utilizing solar energy is increased, and the energy contained in existing organic molecules (amino acids, peptides and carbohydrates) is utilized either directly or indirectly by the plant. This approach could help to solve the problems of environmental pollution and degradation caused by the misuse and excessive application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to soils. Therefore, new technologies that can enhance the economic-viability of fanning systems with little or no use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are urgently needed and should be a high priority of agricultural research both now and in the immediate future.
“An ideal agricultural system is sustainable, maintains and improves human health, benefits producers and consumers both economically and spiritually, protects the environment, and produces enough food for an increasing world population. ” – Dr. Teruo Higa
Increase Yields: Beneficial Microorganisms in Agriculture is a series of articles highlighting how you can increase crop yields through a better understanding of biological farming. Pro-Soil agricultural products are your key towards agricultural success.