Knowledge and advice

Science magazine “The littlest farmhands”

Scientists are discovering thousands of microbes that help plants survive and thrive. Could these symbionts help farmers as well?

By Jop de Vrieze in Palencia, Spain

Look. Nothing flourishes here. Not even weeds.” Pius Floris picks up one of the dozens of stones scattered around him on the degraded, barren-looking soil. Decades of drought, monoculture, overuse of fertilizer, and excessive plowing have taken their toll on this field in the Spanish region of Castilla y León. As a result, wind and rain have washed away all but 25 centimeters of the fertile topsoil that used to nourish the grain here. For centuries, this area was a bread basket; today, yields are so low that farmers work the area only because of subsidies from the European Union. Floris, a Dutch entrepreneur in plant health, wants to turn that situation around…

Read the complete article from Science magazine