Microbial biofertilizer could boost sustainable farming as food demand booms

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Credit: Colourbox

Agriculture is facing tough challenges in the years ahead, including a rising world population and arable land and water becoming scarcer. The traditional methods of improving food yield to match this demand — chemical fertilizers and insecticides — are unsustainable due to pollution and their negative impact on climate change.

One option to help with this problem is replacing traditional chemicals with microbes to enhance plant growth. Known as biofertilizers, these products change the microbiome of the soil to provide plants with nutrients and are less polluting than chemical fertilizers.

Biofertilizers are effective in greenhouses where you can control the environmental conditions. In the field, however, environmental stresses make the microbes less effective. [biotech firm] Kapsera aims to overcome this limitation by supplying microbes in capsules made from alginate, a material derived from seaweed.

Related article:  Synthetic biosensors: Engineered plants could detect flu viruses and crop pests before they become global problems

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Smaller than a grain of sand, the capsules consist of a liquid core that houses the beneficial microbes. This core is surrounded by a shell that lets nutrients and gases pass so that the microbes can survive inside.

Read full, original article: This Biotech Fertilizes Crops with Little Microbe Capsules

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