Drought and extreme heat are the largest climate-related threats to global agricultural production. A worsening climate means more extreme, unpredictable weather events that can range from acute large rainfalls to prolonged periods of drought. These events have a direct impact on crop yield. Current soil water retention is limited to geographical soil properties and intrinsic plant absorption capacity.
When rain occurs, the soil has a maximum absorption capacity, and the crop has a maximum uptake retention capacity. The remaining water, which can be substantial in dramatic weather events, is not utilised and often runs off the land, leading to localised flooding. The inability to retain this water, then requires the use of an irrigated water supply that has been costly processed and paid for by the farmer. In warm climates that experience intense heat and prolonged periods of drought, supplying water to crops is expensive and unsustainable. When soil moisture is reduced, the microbiome is depleted, which is essential for healthy crops. Water is the difference between healthy soil and infertile dirt.
CroBio is a start-up founded by individuals specialising in microbiology and engineering. The company has a vision to create an environmentally sustainable solution to managing global agricultural drought.
The companies current technology is based on a genetically engineered root-associated bacteria that has self-sustaining biologically active water retention. The bacteria naturally occur around the roots of many crops such as corn, wheat and soybean. By exploiting these symbiotic relationships, we are able to engineer beneficial traits.