A company with a new product to replace artificial fertiliser has raised $430m in funding.
Pivot Bio, a company based in Berkley, California, specialises in microbes which help to fix nitrogen (N) from the air.
Its newest product, ProveN40, contains microbes which are placed in the soil with corn seed.
These microbes then attach to the plant's roots as it grows and take N from the air to convert it to ammonia, which the plant then uses.
The microbes, which can be applied to the seedbed, allow farmers to cut back on their use of artificial fertiliser, while also providing a product which is not subject to loss during high rainfall events.
According to the company, its products, which it describes as microbial nitrogen, were used on over one million acres of farmland in 2021.
Aside from reducing greenhouse gas emissions emitted from artificial fertiliser, the product also reduces the risk of run-off from fertilisers and aims to provide the plant with a consistent supply of N as needed.
There is also an added advantage of applying the product to the seedbed, as the number of passes needed with machinery on the field can be reduced.
The fertiliser spreader or sprayer does not travel as much and this saves time and reduces traffic levels on the field, which can cause compaction in the soil.
The level of funding raised is a sign of the move away from the use of certain fertiliser products.
These microbes could play a role in the requirements being placed on farmers to reduce the levels of artificial fertiliser used on their farms.