Farmers in the US are testing a new farming approach to increase the
productivity of their corn fields.
They are adding genetically modified (GM) bacteria alongside their usual
starter fertilizers. The GM bacteria, which has been developed by
California-based Pivot Bio, will aid the corn plants to transform nitrogen
from the atmosphere into a form that the corn plants can use as fertilizer.
The symbiotic relationship between bacteria and plants, also known as
nitrogen fixation, has always existed. However, agricultural processes
disrupted the balance by increasing the synthetic nitrogen in the soil.
Synthetic nitrogen is also a common source of water pollution.
The ultimate goal of the GM bacteria is to replace synthetic nitrogen
fertilizer with microbes that can provide adequate nitrogen supply for
crops. With this, the researchers found a nitrogen-fixing bacteria that had
evolved to live on corn roots and modified its genes so its nitrogen-fixing
action remains active even if there's already a large amount of nitrogen in
the soil. The nitrogen-enhancing microbe is being offered in 25 states and
is the first of its kind available in the market, according to the company.