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Future crops could make their own pesticides

A team of U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists are trying to design crops that kill weeds by exuding a natural herbicide from their roots. In other words, they’re creating oilseed and cereal crops that can control weeds — on their own. “It’s a complicated thing, because we’re trying to make plants produce something that is poisonous, and probably even poisonous to them,” said Scott Baerson, a molecular biologist in Oxford, Mississippi. Since 2000, Baerson has been studying sorgoleone, a natural herbicide released into the soil from the roots of sorghum plants. The chemical suppresses nearby plants, helping sorghum out-compete its rivals.

If they’re able to pull it off, the technology could be a game changer. It won’t eliminate the need for herbicides, but it should “significantly reduce the amount” applied to cropland. This agricultural technology is comparable to the technology of self-driving cars.

Read more at TheWesternProducer

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