Important notes on Biofuel™ SP and Tribus®

Important notes on Biofuel™ SP and Tribus®

Biofuel™ SP is a unique, one-part plant nutrient that minimizes the amount of labor necessary to maximize the quality and yield of each harvest. Notably, Biofuel SP can be applied from planting through harvest without the need to change nutrients in accordance with plant growth cycles, unlike most conventional fertilizers.


But how is that possible?

Most cultivated plants are capable of acquiring all of the nutrients they need to grow and thrive during intense cultivation naturally, without the manipulation of nutrient inputs. Plants are able to uptake nutrients through three separate mechanisms: root interception, mass flow, and diffusion. However, nutrient uptake is a selective process, meaning plants can pick and choose which nutrients to uptake when, in accordance with their needs. What that ultimately means is that as long as the appropriate amount of each necessary nutrient is present in the soil, the plant will be able to grow and flower properly, regardless of any artificial manipulation by the farmer.

In other words, the only difference between using a one-part fertilizer and a conventional multi-part nutrient regimen in the field is the amount of labor (and math!) required by the farmer.

So, when it comes to growing hemp in the field, the important thing is to ensure that the minimum threshold of available nutrients (called the “critical concentrations”) is met over the course of the year, and to not worry so much about applying exactly the right nutrients at the right time. The plant will figure it out.

As with all things in biology, there are a couple of additional considerations when it comes to plant nutrition: the biological activity in the soil, or, more specifically, the rhizosphere (i.e., the area of soil within 15mm of a living plant root), as well as the type of nutrient being applied—specifically, the nitrogen source.


Nitrogen Source

Nitrogen fertilizers are commonplace in all of agriculture. Nitrogen is one of the most important plant macronutrients and is easily eliminated from agricultural soils due to plant uptake, leaching/washing out, and volatilization. Most conventional fertilizers provide nitrogen to the plant in the form of nitrate (NO3), ammonia (NH3), or ammonium (NH4+), which require chemical reduction by the plant—a process that takes energy and time. The reduction process for nitrogen-containing compounds in plants is as follows:


Nitrate -> Nitrite -> Ammonium -> Amino Acids (utilized by plant)


As this process indicates, all forms of applied inorganic nitrogen fertilizers (calcium nitrate, ammonium nitrate, anhydrous ammonia, etc.) must be chemically reduced before being used for growth by the plant in the form of amino acids—the building blocks of life. This process can be slow, particularly in times of stress (drought, cold, high salts, etc.), and is overall energetically intensive, meaning plants must spend significant energy to uptake nutrients before even getting to utilize them.

This is where the nitrogen source comes into play. Conventional farming as we know it has dictated that nitrogen fertilizers should be applied in their inorganic forms—usually ammonium or nitrate—to successfully fertilize a crop. However, more recently, the importance and role of organic nitrogen sources—i.e., amino acids and peptides—has been established, not only to the benefit of the plant, but also to the benefit of the farmer and his soil.


 *Note: “Organic” in this context of nitrogen is used in the chemical definition, i.e., ‘organic’ = carbon-containing compound. Compare to “inorganic”, i.e., non-carbon containing compound.


Amino acids and peptides are differentiated from inorganic nitrogen forms in a few important ways:

            -they are readily available for plant uptake and use

            -they are less prone to “wash out” and volatilization in the soil

            -they promote beneficial microbial activity in the soil and restore organic matter

            -they promote plant tolerance to abiotic stress (cold, drought, hail, etc.)


Biofuel™ SP 7-6-5 not only supplies abundant phosphorus (P2O5) and potassium (K2O) that suits all stages of plant growth but couples those nutrients with a high nitrogen content (7%) that is comprised of ~97% organic nitrogen in the form of amino acids. By weight, about 35% of Biofuel SP is amino acids. Only a small fraction (0.1%) of the nitrogen in Biofuel SP is in the form of ammonium. The result? Plants have access to all the nutrients they need to grow from planting through harvest, and the farmer saves time and money by applying a single nutrient throughout the year without needing to switch nutrient inputs from vegetative growth to flowering. Plus, the applied nitrogen is more likely to stay in the soil where it’s plant-available (rather than washing out) and also supports the growth of beneficial soil microorganisms, helping to further improve crop quality and yield. All of that happens while improving soil quality year over year, something that conventional fertilizers can’t do. 


Biological Activity

A second consideration in all of this is a cutting-edge concept in agronomy and intensive crop production: the role and benefit of beneficial soil microorganisms in plant productivity. Conventional agriculture and the inorganic fertilizers that come with it have seriously depleted our soil’s health, resilience, and natural biology at a serious cost. Our most productive agricultural soils have become less productive year over year, requiring more and more conventional fertilizers to achieve the same crop yields. However, farmers have a simple solution to start combating the problem—they can replace inorganic nitrogen sources with high quality organicnitrogen sources, which helps rebuild soil organic matter (SOM), restore the diversity and function of native soil microbes, and promote plant growth in a sustainable manner, all while investing in the future of their own farm through improved soil function and productivity. By working with both native and introduced soil biology, farmers can get more productivity with less fertilizer input and less soil degradation.

When soil biology is restored, plant growth and yield can be dramatically improved by the presence of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPRs). These microorganisms help mobilize and solubilize soil-bound nutrients like phosphorus and potassium, making them available for plant uptake. Beneficial soil microbes will also help cycle nutrients in the soil, improving the soil characteristics both in the short term and in the long term.

Many farmers who have been intensively farming the same land for decades have seen the degradation of their soils and the loss of this beneficial soil biology, which can be a slow process to restore. However, it is possible to speed up the process by introducing beneficial soil microorganisms, like the Bacillus species of bacteria found in Impello’s Tribus® microbial inoculants. These bacteria help kickstart the natural biological processes of the soil while promoting plant growth, resulting in a positive ROI for the farmer from the first year of incorporation.

It may sound complicated, and that’s because the science behind it is! But fortunately, the solution is simple: satisfy all of your plant nutrition needs with a single, one part nutrient like Biofuel™ SP and pair it with a beneficial microbial inoculant like Tribus® to maximize plant quality and yield and restore soil quality. Your plants, your customers, and your soil will thank you. 




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