BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A product made in South Mississippi could have a dramatic impact on the agriculture industry.
It's a microbe-based soil enhancer called "SumaGrow" that promises higher crop yields while greatly reducing the need for fertilizer.
"SumaGrow" almost sounds too good to be true. It's environmentally friendly, costs about the same as fertilizer and also removes contaminants from the soil.
If it proves popular, the product might also contribute to a cleaner Gulf of Mexico.
"Nitrogen fixing bacteria are essentially like nano factories," the research scientist told the crowd at the Biloxi Civic Center.
No, it isn't college biology class. Farmers at the "Sustainable Agriculture" conference are learning about microbe-enhanced soil additives.
"Most of you are already familiar with the problems with chemical fertilizers," said the researcher.
"SumaGrow" promises to greatly reduce the need for those chemicals.
"SumaGrow" is concentrated Mother Nature. A bunch of microbes carried in liquid humates that increases crop yields while reducing or eliminating fertilizer," said Lou Elwell, CEO of the company that markets the product.
The proof is in the field trials, in this case slides showing growth rates with and without "SumaGrow".
"And this is clover with "SumaGrow" and control," said the researcher, "You can see how dramatic the difference is between treated and untreated."
"We get to harvest approximately a week quicker than a lot of the other local farmers," said Michigan corn farmer, Bob Groulz.
He's been using "SumaGrow" for four years and was able to cash in when the grain elevators offered a 35 cent a bushel premium for early corn delivery.
"And we were always there. We were one of the first ones to deliver corn. A lot of times by the time the neighbor's corn was ready, we were 75 percent done," he explained.
The increased use of this product by farmers could eventually lead to a cleaner Gulf of Mexico.
For years, scientists have warned about the increasing size of the so-called "dead zone" in the gulf, a stagnant condition that's caused primarily by fertilizer runoff that comes down the Mississippi River and into the gulf.
"In fact, if we can get farmers to use this product properly, in enough volume, we could actually eliminate that problem," said Wayne Wade, president of the company that produces "SumaGrow".
It was recogized last year by "Popular Science" magazine, winning an award for most innovative product.
By the way, the cost of the product is about the same as chemical fertilizers.