It seems there are ever increasing amounts of products for agricultural use that are considered “biologicals” in this rapidly advancing field of research and product development. Biological products can serve as natural pesticides and biostimulants that lead to growth enhancement, disease control, soil health improvement, and plant nutrient uptake enhancement, among numerous other uses.
According to R.J. Rant of Nutrilink Biosystems based in Michigan, biologicals are a diverse group of products derived from naturally occurring microorganisms, plant extracts, or other organic matter. They fall into two main categories: microbials (live organisms including bacteria, fungi, nematodes, protozoa and viruses) and biochemicals (naturally occurring compounds including plant and insect growth regulators, organic acids, plant extracts, minerals, and pheromones). Microbials are fairly well understood, but there is still much to learn about biochemicals, Rant said.
Biologicals that have been in use for a while in agriculture include: Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), Bacillus subtilis, seaweed extract, humic and fulvic acid, sugar (molasses), compost teas, and fermentation extracts.