Understanding Biofertilizers, its Types and Applications in India

Updated on 24th April, 2024, By Abhijeet Warak
Understanding Biofertilizers, its Types and Applications in India
Biofertilizers are one of the essential sustainable agricultural practices in India to improve soil quality. They are cost-effective, eco-friendly, and an important source of nutrients for plants.

Table of Contents


Indian agriculture is facing various environmental concerns, and the primary is declining soil fertility. The need is to promote the use of sustainable agricultural practices such as organic farming and biofertilizers.

Though we have known the importance of Cover Crops like legumes in enhancing soil fertility since ancient times and their role in fixing nitrogen biologically was discovered a century ago.  The commercial exploitation of biofertilizers started with the launch of ‘Nitragin’ – laboratory culture of Rhizobia – in 1895.

In Indian context, the commercial production of biofertilizers like Rhizobium started in 1956. Today, it has emerged as a promising agricultural technology to balance the shortcoming of chemical fertilisers. It is an essential component of Sustainable Agriculture in India.

What is Biofertilizer?

Biofertilizers are preparations containing living cells of beneficial soil microorganisms that help improve soil fertility and increase crop yield. They are also known as microbial inoculants. Some of the example of biofertilizers are Rhizobium, Azotobacter, and Blue Green Algae.

Now, the question arises how do biofertilizers enrich the fertility of the soil. Biofertilizers, when applied through seed or soil, interact with the rhizosphere to increase the uptake of nutrients by plants, thus increasing the soil fertility.

Types of Biofertilizers

The different types of biofertilizers can be classified on the basis of functions microorganisms perform. Thus, we have given below the classification of biofertilizers.

Nitrogen Fixing Biofertilizers (NFB)

Nitrogen fixing biofertilizers are bacteria that help fix nitrogen in the soil. They fix nitrogen by associating themselves with the root nodules of the leguminous plants. See the table below to know the examples of it.

Classification of Nitrogen Fixers


Free Living

Azotobacter, Anabaena (aerobic)
 Clostridium (anaerobic)
 Blue green Algae


Rhizobium, Anabaena azollae



Associative Symbiotic



Phosphorus Solubilizers

This category of biofertilizers comprise of microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. They help the roots of plants to absorb phosphorus. See the table below to know the examples of it.

Classification of P Solubilizers



Bacillus megaterium, B. subtilis, Pseudomonas striata


Penicillium sp, Aspergillus awamori


Phosphorus Mobilizers

These biofertilizers help in transporting the nutrients in the form of phosphorus to the cortical cells of the root of a plant. The examples of it are:

  • AM fungi
  • Ectomycorrhizal fungi
  • Orchid mycorrhiza
  • Ericoid Mycorrhiza

Advantages of Biofertilizers

The importance of biofertilizers ranges from improvement in soil quality to protecting the plant from disease. Thus, some of the advantages are:

  • They cost less and are eco-friendly.
  • They are an important supplement to chemical fertilizers.
  • They enrich soil with essential nutrients, improving the soil quality over time.
  • They help release growth promoting hormones and improve root propagation.
  • They help in increasing the crop yield by 10-25%.
  • They help replace chemical nitrogen and phosphorus by 25%.

Application of Biofertilizers to Crops

Application of biofertilizers ranges from seed treatment, seedling root dip to soil treatment. Let us see each application in brief.

Seed treatment

  • Prepare a slurry by mixing 200 grams of Phosphotika and 200 grams of nitrogenous biofertilizer in 300-400 ml of water.
  • Uniformly apply the prepared inoculant on the seeds and let it dry for 30 minutes. Each prepared microbial inoculant is enough to treat 10 kg seeds.
  • Ensure that treated seeds are sown within 24 hours.

Seedling root dip

Seedling root dip is ideal for transplanted crops like rice. In this, 1 kg of inoculant is mixed with 40 litres for one hectare of land. The roots of seedlings are dipped for 8-10 hours and then transplanted.

Soil treatment

To treat the soil, mix 4 kg each of the recommended biofertilizers with 200 kg of compost and keep it overnight. The prepared mixture is incorporated in the soil at the time of planting crops.

Government efforts to Popularize Use of Biofertilizer

Biofertilizers are an important component of Organic Farming and Integrated Nutrient Management in India. They are less costly, eco-friendly and an important source of nutrients for plants. Thus, the government has been taking efforts to promote and popularize the use of biofertilizers in India. Some of the initiatives are:

  • Fertilizer Control Order (FCO), 1985: For ensuring quality, biofertilizers have been notified under the FCO.
  • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY): Under the Soil Component of the scheme, bio-fertilizers are promoted through provisions of financial assistance for strengthening of infrastructure for production and quality control.
  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY): Farmers are provided financial assistance of INR 31000 per hectare for 3 years through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for bio-fertilizer.
  • Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North-Eastern Region (MOVCDNER): Financial assistance of INR 32, 500 per hectare is given for 3 years for bio-fertilizer.
  • PM Programme for Restoration, Awareness, Nourishment and Amelioration of Mother Earth (PM-PRANAM): 50% of the fertilizer subsidy on NPK saved by a State/UT in a particular financial year will be passed on to that State/UT as Grant.
  • Mission Life Programme: It encourages organic farming and natural farming using organic and biofertilizer to reduce emission of Green House Gas (GHG) through reduction of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
  • National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP): Financial assistance is provided at 50% subsidy to the maximum of INR 300 per hectare for different types of biofertilizers.
  • National Food Security Mission (NFSM): A 50% subsidy in the cost up to a maximum of INR 300 per hectare is provided for promotion of Bio-Fertilizer (Rhizobium/ PSB).

Frequently Asked Questions on Understanding Biofertilizers, its Types and Applications in India

1. What is biofertilizer?

Biofertilizers are preparations of living cells of beneficial soil microorganisms like bacteria and fungi that help increase the nutrient uptake of plants.

Biofertilizers, when given through seed or soil, interact with the rhizosphere to increase the nutrient uptake of the plants and thus enrich the soil fertility.

Biofertilizers types are nitrogen fixers, phosphorus solubilizers and phosphorus mobilizers.

Biofertilizers improve soil fertility and protect plants from diseases in an eco-friendly manner. Besides, they are also cost-effective compared to chemical fertilizers.

The advantages of biofertilizers range from being cost-effective and eco-friendly to being an important source of nutrient for plants.

Biofertilizers are classified on the basis of microorganisms and functions. Based on functions, they are classified as Nitrogen fixers, Phosphorus solubilizers, and Phosphorus mobilizers.

Abhijeet Warak
Published By
Abhijeet Warak
With over 2 years of experience, Abhijeet is a seasoned tractor and implement expert with an M.Tech (Agri) (FMP) from Dr Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth. His knowledge is rooted in practical experience and academic excellence.
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