The Best Inventions of 2020
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November 19, 2020 8:56 AM EST

For decades, agriculture has used synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to replenish nutrients in soil. But the chemical, used in half of all food production, can have devastating environmental and health effects. Berkeley, Calif.–based Pivot Bio is combatting that with the world’s first microbial biofertilizer for cereal crops like wheat, rye, rice and barley. Dubbed PROVEN, the product replaces synthetic solutions with nitrogen-fixing microbes, which capture nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form that plants can use. For $20 per acre, compared to nearly $100 for existing fertilizers, farmers gain a more consistent harvest while eliminating 1 gigaton worth of carbon-dioxide-equivalent emissions. —Mariah Espada

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