“Bakken and his colleagues used organic waste to grow their bacteria, reasoning that many farmers already apply processed manure-based fertilizers so it could be easily integrated into their routines. Building on past work, they searched for a microorganism that would last long enough to make a real dent in nitrous oxide emissions without staying in the soil so long that it disrupted other tiny life forms that are often vital for crop health.

In field trials, they used roving robots to measure nitrous oxide emissions day and night, comparing conditions in soil with and without the bacteria. They found the bacteria reduced the nitrous oxide emissions of an initial fertilizer application by 94%, and a couple weeks later, dropped the emissions of a subsequent fertilizer application by about half.”

From Associated Press.