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Durable growth


Banana paper can protect potato seeds from pathogens.

But soil bacteria provide vital nutrients for plants’ healthy growth. Making them a good replacement for chemical fertilisers. If only they were less sensitive to heat, humidity and freeze-drying…

Now, thanks to a US-based research team, the bacteria can be given a protective coating. It’s made by mixing metal ions – iron, magnesium, aluminium or zinc are suitable – with antioxidant molecules such as tannic acid.

With the help of the coated bacteria, seeds grown in a lab dish sprouted at 1.5 times the rate of those grown using untreated microbes. A new startup is aiming to supply small-scale farmers with the low-cost fertiliser.

Aloe vera could be used for complementary pest control.

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