Gene-edited rice can naturally fix nitrogen in the soil, vastly reducing the need for chemical fertilizers
The price of artificial fertilizers has skyrocketed, especially in the past year. Improving nitrogen fixation can make farming more sustainable.
Renowned botanist Eduardo Blumwald, professor at the University of California, and his team have found a new way to give cereal crops the nitrogen they need to grow. This invention can reduce nitrogen pollution in grain cultivation. Fertilizers and animal manure, which are normally used, are bad for the groundwater, cause more greenhouse gases and are ultimately bad for public health.
Nitrogen is an essential component for plant growth and farms rely on fertilizers to maximize their yield. But much of the manure used in the fields is lost. It disappears into the soil and groundwater without the plant absorbing it. Blumwald’s team, whose findings have been published in the journalPlant Biotechnology, may have created an efficient and sustainable alternative.
“Plants are fantastic chemical factories,” says the botanist. “With these genetically modified grain crops, we can create a sustainable alternative. A new way of producing grain, without the large amounts of fertilizer that are normally involved in cultivation.”
Diverse microbiota inhabit soil-plant systems.
Credit: Allan Chong
[Editor’s note: This article has been translated from Dutch and edited for clarity.]
By Jeanette Kras