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Big Ag Bets on Microbes to Solve the World’s Fertilizer Problems

Jan. 20, 2023, 5:01 AM

Farmers depend on synthetic fertilizers to deliver the high crop yields required to meet global food demand, but that comes at a cost to the environment. Much fertilizer production relies on natural gas or coal, accounting for just over 2% of the world’s climate-warming emissions, and chemical fertilizers contribute to agricultural runoff that damages wildlife. For growers, fertilizer costs can also be wildly unpredictable, because prices are based on the availability of commodities including nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and gas.

All this has spurred a hunt for alternatives to mineral fertilizers that’s starting to achieve results. Agribusiness heavyweights including Bayer, ...