Soil microbes closely related to crop yield: study

NANJING, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) — A joint study conducted by Chinese and Spanish researchers has found that soil microbes are closely related to crop yield, and the protection of certain microbes may help reduce the need for fertilizers and increase crop production.

The study, led by researchers from the Institute of Soil Science under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, systematically studied the relationship between soil microbes and crop yield based on data from an experimental wheat field in Mengcheng, east China’s Anhui Province.

Researchers conducted a statistical analysis of bacteria, fungi, nematodes and other microbes in soil samples. The results showed that some soil microbes, such as nitrogen-fixing bacteria and photosynthetic bacteria, are closely related to the growth of crops.

These soil microbes can enhance the circulation of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other elements in the soil and promote the absorption of nutrients by wheat. Samples with abundant microbes in the soil saw reduced pathogens and increased production.

Chu Haiyan, one of the researchers, said climate and fertilizer use are considered key factors for crop yield. However, the role of soil microbes should not be ignored.

The study highlights the role of soil microbe diversity in improving crop yield, providing guidance for future agricultural production, Chu said.

The study was published in The ISME Journal.

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