The importance of nitrogen to profitable corn production has been widely recognized for many years. Since corn is a grass crop, additional nitrogen is often added to increase yields & profitability. However, excessive nitrogen application is very expensive-both in terms of cost & environmental impact. Dr. Kaustubh Bhalerao, agricultural engineer at the U of Illinois, believes that it is possible to "teach" corn how to fix its own nitrogen, through the use of synthetic biology.
Synthetic biology is a new area of research that combines science and engineering in order to design and build or "synthesize" novel biological functions and systems. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_biology).
Dr. Bhalerao is looking at how to design a system that enable nitrogen fixing bacteria to communicate with the root systems of corn plants. Article link: http://www.illinoisagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=191
I believe this possibility has enormous potential consequences. What do you think?
Yield Starts Here is a blog for farmers, focusing on increasing yield and profitability by focusing on the soil. It is managed by Craig Dick, a Blogronomist and Sales and Marketing Manager at Calcium Products. Find other articles by Craig and guest writers at http://blog.calciumproducts.com/ .