Growing cereal crops with less fertilizer
Eduardo Blumwald, right, of the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, with postdoctoral researcher Akhilesh Yadav, and rice they and others on the Blumwald team modified to use nitrogen more efficiently. Credit: Trina Kleist/UC Davis

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have found a way to reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilization. Farmers in the United States could save billions of dollars each year if the discovery is correct.

The research was done in the lab of a distinguished professor of plant sciences.

Reducing nitrogen pollution could help the environment by increasing greenhouse gas emissions and human health issues. It was published in a journal.

Agricultural operations depend on chemical fertilization to increase productivity. A lot of what is applied is lost in the process. There could be a sustainable alternative to be created.

"Nitrogenfertilizer are very expensive," he said. It's important that anything you can do to eliminate that cost is done. Money on one side and harmful effects on the environment are the problems.

There is a new way to naturalfertilizer.

Nitrogen fixation is a process in which soilbacteria convert nitrogen gas in the air into Ammonium.

Legumes such as peanuts and soybeans have root nodules that can be used to grow nitrogen-fixingbacteria. Rice and wheat don't have the ability to take in ammonia and nitrate from the soil, so they have to rely on other sources.

If a plant can produce chemicals that make soilbacteria fix atmospheric nitrogen gas, we could modify the plants to produce more of these chemicals. The plants will use the Ammonium formed from these chemicals to reduce the amount ofFertilizer used.

The compounds in the rice plants that enhanced the nitrogen-fixing activity of thebacteria were identified by the team.

They used gene editing technology to increase the production of compounds that caused the formation of biofilms. There arebacteria that enhance nitrogen conversion. The amount of Ammonia in the soil increased as a result of this.

He said plants are amazing chemical factories. A sustainable alternative agricultural practice that reduces the use of excessive nitrogen fertilization could be provided by this.

Other plants can use the pathway. The University of California has applied for a patent on the technique.

A number of people from UC Davis and Bayer Crop Science contributed to the paper. Ottaviani works at Mars Edge.

More information: Dawei Yan et al, Genetic modification of flavone biosynthesis in rice enhances biofilm formation of soil diazotrophic bacteria and biological nitrogen fixation, Plant Biotechnology Journal (2022). DOI: 10.1111/pbi.13894 Journal information: Plant Biotechnology Journal