Scientists Discover a Smoky Solution for Stronger and Disease-Resistant Crops

By: | October 25th, 2022

Image Credit University of Missouri

The studies on plants and smoke are limited but it is a well-known fact that plants don’t do well when exposed to forest fire smoke. Exposure to smoke can reduce photosynthesis, impacting plant growth, reduction in fruit production, and even affecting their taste.

However, a new study by researchers at the University of Missouri suggests that when liquid smoke is added to the soil, it improves the health of certain food crops. Liquid smoke is created by condensing smoke from burning wood to simulate smoke produced by wildfires

This chance discovery was made by Prof. Richard Ferrieri and his colleagues at the University of Missouri while studying the impact of smoke-saturated soil on plant growth.

Smoke made the plants stronger, sturdier, and more disease-resistant

The researchers found that as compared to regular soil, sunflowers grown in the carbon-rich smoky-soil produced larger and greener leaves. The plants also had thicker stems, twice as many flowers, and were more resistant to pests and diseases.

The study could have major implications for crops

In the future, researchers want to expand upon this research by testing crops, such as soybeans.

Prof. Ferrieri hopes that the study could help provide a possible solution for the issue of global food security by increasing the resilience of crops against developing various diseases. It could also help farmers achieve high yields by providing a natural alternative to the use of pesticides.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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