Why Beneficial Microbes Mean Big Things for Food and Agriculture - Charleston|Orwig

State of the Plate

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Aug 222017

Why Beneficial Microbes Mean Big Things for Food and Agriculture

Since humans planted the first seeds and tamed the first beast, agriculture has been about harnessing the benefits of sunlight, rain, dirt, fertilizer and animals—all things you can see, touch, feel and sense.

Fields and barns were our proving grounds. And generations reaped bountiful harvests, each age outdoing the one before to improve production of food, fuel and fiber.

Today, agriculture is swiftly becoming about harnessing the things we cannot see, the myriad of microscopic communities made up of trillions of individual miniscule organisms which affect the inner workings of humans, animals and the soil beneath our feet.

These microorganisms – bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoans and mites – make up the microbiota—the diverse system of individual ecosystems that have specific jobs and needs within every living creature and ounce of soil.

This is how “stuff” gets done—and has everything to do with how you feel and how well animals and crops function.

Science is just beginning to scratch the surface of the importance of these microscopic systems, how they are connected to each other, and how they influence us and the world in which we live.

Plus, this new understanding means researchers and companies can isolate which organisms contribute to growth (or other beneficial animal function) and “seed” those into a livestock population. These diminutive tools can increase productivity, including feed efficiency and animal health, in giant ways to have big impacts on the food we eat.

They can boost crop production, and enhance immunity while reducing reliance on antibiotics in people and animals, too. Scientists also believe that a better understanding of how these interactions work may lead to solutions for ailments such as obesity, diabetes, inflammatory diseases and even mental health challenges like anxiety and depression.

Exciting new advances are on the horizon, so stay tuned. These innovations will be part of the key to supporting a rapidly rising world population. It’s not always about what you can see—the future also hinges on the unseen.

CO Insights

The world is a really big place that’s governed by millions of teeny, tiny organisms. It’s an exhilarating time as we discover more about the Microbial Terroir and the interaction and interconnectivity of these communities of microbiota and their impact on human and animal health, nutrition, productivity and the food we eat. The potential benefits to humans and animals are staggering—it’s going to be fascinating to see where this knowledge takes us.

Interested in how emerging issues can impact your business? Contact Mark Gale at mgale@charlestonorwig.com or call 262.563.5100.

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