Byron Cottrell, an associate professor of soil science at Rutgers University, was researching nitrogen fixation in plants.
When it comes to fertilizing, he found a problem: nitrogen-fixing microbes are abundant on soil but not necessarily thriving.
“I think it’s very important to understand that a soil fertility issue is a natural part of life on Earth,” he said.
Cottrell’s team spent years studying nitrogen fixation, studying its effects on plant health, and studying the microbes living on it.
When they realized how little nitrogen fertilizers are able to fix, they decided to investigate what’s behind the nitrogen fixation.
They found that a number of microbes are involved in soil fertility.
The researchers looked at soil pH levels, and they also looked at the nutrient-fixation rates of different soil types.
They looked at how many nutrients a soil has and the types of nutrients it needs to survive.
They found that when it comes down to it, soil pH is not the issue.
It’s the nitrogen, Cottrel said.
When nitrogen is added to soil, microbes will be able to get into the soil and make nitrogen-containing compounds.
Soil pH also plays a role, and nitrogen fixation is not a complete loss.
But what if nitrogen is the problem?
That’s what Cottres research team wanted to know.
They wondered, what if we could make soil bacteria more productive?
The researchers found that plants do not need to be able the produce enough nitrogen to fix the nitrogen.
Instead, plants can use nutrients to fix nitrogen that they already have.
That’s when they realized nitrogen fixation can actually work on a microscopic level.
It doesn’t require a plant to be growing nutrients, so the bacteria can fix nitrogen on their own.
This is what they found, Cotts research team found that bacteria can make nitrates from nitrogen and nitrogen-free soil nitrogen.
They also found that nitrogen-fixed microbes are more likely to reproduce and produce nitrogen-rich compounds.
Cotts lab is using the nitrogen-fixes from the soil to make fertilizer for crops.
It also has a machine that can make fertilizer from fertilizer.
He says this is a very good way to make fertilizers because the fertilizer is more likely the plant will grow.
Cots lab also is working with universities to get the technology to the farmers.
Cottre said it’s possible that the technology could be used to improve fertilizer on food crops.