Soil microbes are the focus on the most scientifically advanced farm in the world

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In California, scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are working with the University of Arkansas and Glennoe Farms on a farm in Arkansas growing soybeans, corn, and rice that is aiming to be the most scientifically advanced farm in the world.

A central piece of the research is understanding the role of microbes in the health of the soil. Soil samples are run through powerful machines to have their microbes genetically sequenced, drones are flying overhead taking hyperspectral images of the crops, and soon supercomputers will be crunching the massive volumes of data collected.

This project brings together molecular biology, biogeochemistry, environmental sensing technologies, and machine learning, to revolutionize agriculture and create sustainable farming practices that benefit both the environment and farms. If successful, the scientists envision improving the long-term viability of the land by reducing chemical fertilizers, while at the same time increasing crop yields.