Whether it is farming or many other aspects of life, we are on a constant search for improvement. We want things to be bigger and better and for them to come to fruition by faster means. Farming has always been something that marched to the beat of its own drum, however, in that Mother Nature has a tendency to ignore our prodding along, preferring to provide growth and nourishment in her own time. Since coaxing did not change her tune, the help of science was enlisted and GMO’s, or Genetically Modified Organisms, were born.
Although GMO’s are present in much of the United States, feelings about their presence are widely varied. The anti-GMO movement is pushing hard and gaining ground and slowly but surely the tides are changing. Restaurants are beginning to phase out GMO foods to meet the demand of consumers, with Chipotle leading the charge. As the demand for GMO-free foods continues to rise, more and more we will see a need to replace GMO crops as consumers vote with their dollars.
Whether you are for or against the GMO movement and whether or not you currently grow GMO crops, the natural progression away from GMO’s is opening up some interesting doors that could benefit farming as a whole. New science rooted in microbes is looking to achieve some of the things that GMO’s have but in a healthier, more acceptable way. The future of farming very well could embrace this thanks to its natural roots which call upon the use of single-cell organisms known as microbes.
Photo: Modern Farmer
Microbes are the oldest known type of life on our planet, dating back billions of years. They are present in many places and we are dependent upon them to live. We use them to eat and breathe. Microbes of all types are already present in soil and aid in the growth of crops, but science is currently deciphering ways in which microbes could be using to optimize plant growth. The goal is to do this naturally so that the correct adaptation of microbes will result in much sought after organic growth enhancement.
In soil, microbes serve many purposes, such as delivering nutrient to plants, fighting weeds, and repelling insects that dine on crops. The goal of science is application of the correct microbe to get the desired effect which will at the same time meet organic farming guidelines. Whether you want to kill pests or do away with weed, there exists just the right microbe for the job, and it could soon be available for purchase pending Environmental Protection Agency approval.
In addition to crops that are bug-free and not plagued by weeds, it would be nice to give plants that extra oomph to grow bigger and faster. Commercial fertilizers are not an option if you wish to farm organically, but the availability of a crop boosting microbe could be within sight. Much like you would consume vitamins or probiotics to give your health a much needed boost, these microbes can be applied to plants via soil in order to give them a boost as well.
As dots are currently being connected
between crop behaviors and the microbes present in the soil as those behaviors occur, it is only a matter of time before a bigger picture is painted with the canvas being the beginning farmer’s crop fields. At long last a healthy, viable option to keep crops growing and producing could be utilized and it was one that was right under our toes since the beginning of time. It truly is amazing what lurks just below the soil’s surface.