2023 C&EN Fertilizing fields with biology – nitrogen-producing microbes

A number of companies hope to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution associated with synthetic nitrogen fertilizer by replacing it with nitrogen-producing microbes. After years of research and testing, these products are now being deployed on millions of hectares of farmland. While many customers are successfully reducing their use of synthetic fertilizer, some farmers and researchers say the microbes aren’t living up to companies’ claims. The firms are pushing back. They argue that their own studies show that the products are effective and will help abate synthetic fertilizer’s harms without sacrificing food production.

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