Tuesday, 5 July 2011

We need another green revolution

A recent NewScientist opinion piece is arguably more about crops than soil, but it’s a topic which reflects on soil management nonetheless – the demand for the creation of crops which can fix atmospheric nitrogen would reduce or even negate the need for application of mineral nitrogen fertilisers.

The piece recognises the importance of the 'Haber-Bosch process' in allowing us to produce the vast quantities of nitrogen fertilisers which feed us today, and without which, many of us would not be here.

But it calls for the development of new strains of major crops which can effectively create their own fertiliser, in the same way as legumes (such as peas and clover) do, by using bacteria, living within root rhizomes, to fix atmospheric nitrogen. The challenge, the article argues, is to teach this trick to all the world's major cereals.

Read the full piece here.