New microbes can increase US corn and soy yields, claims The BioAg Alliance

By Vince Bamford

- Last updated on GMT

Corn yields can be increased by four bushels an acre, found BioAg Alliance field tests
Corn yields can be increased by four bushels an acre, found BioAg Alliance field tests

Related tags Agriculture Us

A microbe developed by The BioAg Alliance – a collaboration between Novozymes and Monsanto – is claimed to have increased corn yields by around four bushels per acre in US field tests.

The performance of the inoculant - a microbe that helps plants with nutrient uptake - was revealed in the results from the 2015 BioAg Alliance field trial program. The non-GM inoculant (the alliance said it has no plans to sell any GM microbes) is based on a fungus found in soil, and researchers say they found a way of coating it on corn seeds without harming the microbes’ performance or longevity.

The Alliance plans to launch the new inoculant in the US in 2017

Symbiotic relationship

The world needs to produce more crops from our arable land while using fewer resources​,” said Thomas Schäfer, vice president of BioAg research at Novozymes. “The more we learn about microbes and their symbiotic relationships with plants, the more we realize how key they are to this challenge​.”

He added he believed there will be a “microbial revolution​” in agriculture. Microbial products can increase crop yields and complement or replace agricultural chemicals and fertilizers, claimed The BioAg Alliance.

The organization is running what it claims is the world’s largest microbial research program, and tested more than 2,000 microbial strains across 500,000 field trial plots in more than 50 locations in the US last year.

Corn and soy yields increased

It said results from the field trial showed its most effective microbes increased corn yields by an average of four to five bushels an acre, and soy yields by an average of 1.5 bushels per acre.

Last September, the United States Department of Agriculture reported average US corn yield was 167 bushels a hectare, and soy yield 47 bushels.

The BioAg Alliance plans to continue testing thousands of strains in US field trials this year. It said its products are currently used on around 65 million acres, but Monsanto and Novozymes hopes this will increase to between 250 and 500 million acres globally by 2025.

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