This is fascinating. From Scientific American.
Researchers are testing more than 2,000 different microbial seed coatings on half a million test plots in the U.S.
Agribusiness firms Novozymes and Monsanto are leading the way by coating seeds with microbes, planting them on farms across the U.S. and harvesting the crops to see how they fared. The two companies, through their BioAg Alliance, have just concluded the world’s biggest field-test program of seeds laced with promising microbes. This past autumn they harvested a variety of crops, planted using seeds with more than 2,000 different microbial coatings, grown in some 500,000 test plots from Louisiana to Minnesota, and they have been busily analyzing the outcomes.
Ultimately, such microbial agricultural products could significantly reduce fertilizer and pesticide use, easing the burden farming imposes on the environment and potentially helping a farmer’s bottom line by reducing costs or increasing crop yields. The research is the beginning of an ambitious movement to replace chemistry in agriculture with microbiology.
This will require a LOT of statistically rigorous testing, I would think. Specific microbes might work in one soil or climate better than another. This could generate a whole new business of soil specific or even field specific bioengineered seed coatings. Think of the patents and the $$$$ for Monsanto. Plus no need to worry about someone “stealing” their product, like the GMO seeds. A whole new way to monopolize the world’s food supply.