Researchers at UC Davis, have found a way to reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizers needed to grow cereal crops.  UC Davis’ Eduardo Blumwald said the discovery could save American farmers billions of dollars annually in fertilizer costs while also benefiting the environment.


"The idea here is two-fold.   On the one hand, to reduce the expenses in buying fertilizer. Nitrogen fertilizers are very expensive.  But also trying to reduce the negative impact of nitrides on the environment."


Blumwald’s study was recently published in the journal Plant Biotechnology.  He noted the effort also involved in the process of nitrogen fixation, using chemical screening, genomics and gene editing technology to come up with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.  Nitrogen-fixing bacteria are microorganisms capable of transforming nitrogen gas from the atmosphere into “fixed nitrogen” compounds, such as ammonia, that are usable by plants.


"The idea is to harness that ammonium fixed by the bacteria in the air - nitrogen - and use it."


Blumwald added plants are incredible chemical factories which can provide an alternative to the use of excessive nitrogen fertilizers.  Nitrogen fertilizers have been linked to climate change as a driver of global warming.



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