Root crops massively increased yield, crop nutrition and shelf life organically


  • Location: Gamtoos, Eastern Cape
  • Crop: Chicory
  • Fertilizer reductions: 30% less Nitrogen & 37% less Potassium


  • Control: 18 ton per ha
  • ExploGrowTM treated: 23.5 ton per ha
  • +30% higher yield on area where ExploGrowTM was applied

Return on investment:

  • ExploGrowTM block brought in R11 275* more per hectare than the Control block

*At a price of R2050/t of chicory

Drought and water shortages for the past 6 years have taken their toll on the farmers and crops in the Gamtoos, Eastern Cape. This Chicory crop planted in June 2020 was no exception and water shortages meant that the crop was effectively a dryland crop relying on rainfall for the crops water requirements.

The use of microbial inputs is not a new concept for Chicory farmers. As a standard the industry currently applies a consortia of microbes, in combination with humic acid, to the seedbed at planting and again three weeks later. Currently, a combination of Bacillus spp., other *PGPR spp., Trichoderma spp., and Mycorrhizal fungi are used.

*plant growth promoting rhizobacteria

Seed Treatment and early plant development:

Chicory Seed Treatment Increased Yield And Crop Nutrition

Image 1: ExploGrowTM seed treatment on the right compared with the current seedbed preparation treatment on the left. The same trend was consistent across multiple comparison strips.

The Chicory plants that received a seed treatment had a deeper, more developed root system.

In-field Treatment

Two in-field applications of 4 litres of ExploGrowTM per hectare were given to the crop. Due to the high concentration of nitrogen fixing bacteria in ExploGrowTM the crop growth was monitored and the nitrogen application was adjusted according to the crops requirements. The nitrogen application was reduced by 30% and the potassium application was reduced by 37%.

Fertilizer Program Adjustments Per Treatment 2

The ExploGrowTM block produced 30% more Chicory by weight

Chicory Increased Yield Graph

The Control block covered an area of 2.6 ha and the ExploGrowTM block covered an area of 3.6 ha.

The average yield per ha measured
Control block: 18t/ha
ExploGrowTM treated block: 3.5t/ha

Chicory data at harvest summarised:

  • Control: 18t/ha
  • ExploGrowTM treated: 23.5t/ha

The ExploGrowTM block produced +30.56% more Chicory per hectare.


The same farmer also applied ExploGrowTM on his Beetroot crop. Not all of the Beetroot is harvested at the same time for a given piece of land.

The Beetroot which is the right size for the market gets harvested first and this makes space for the smaller plants to grow. Thus, while harvesting the labour will pass the same piece of ground several times.

For the purpose of data collection and this trial it was decided to rather harvest 5 representative 1m x 1m blocks to establish a difference between the treated and untreated blocks. Areas which were good representatives for the treatment block were chosen and the harvest data compared.

Beetroot Yield Incresea With Microbial Fertiliser

Beetroot Yield Result Comparison

Beetroot Increased Yield Graph

The ExploGrowTM treated blocks consistently showed a better yield than the Control blocks.

Beetroot Increased Yield Graph 2

Beetroot data at harvest:

  • The Control block's total mass was 38.5 kg
  • The ExploGrowTM block's total mass was 46.4 kg
  • The ExploGrowTM treated block produced 8.0 kg more Beetroot
  • The difference percentage difference was: +20% more Beetroot

The ExploGrowTM block produced +20% more Beetroot than the Control block.

Massive improvement in Beetroot shelf life

Samples from each size category were stored at room temperature for 84 days (17 FEB - 23 NOV) to test the Beetroots shelf life. The Beetroot which was grown with ExploGrowTM showed a massive shelf life and quality benefit.
See photos below:

Beetroot Increased Shelflife

Control on the left and ExploGrowTM on the right. The control Beetroot is black and shows much less resistance to decay.

Increasing shelf life and yield organically

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