U.S. Sugar Corporation and Arcadia Biosciences have signed an agreement to develop nitrogen use-efficient and water-efficient sugarcane, in a move the companies said could yield sugarcane requiring half the normal amount of nitrogen.
Under the terms of the agreement, U.S. Sugar receives exclusive rights to the use of Arcadia’s NUE and WE technologies in sugar cane. The cane could be used for both food and energy purposes.
Neither the companies’ announcement nor the Arcadia website specifies what these NUE and WE technologies are. They did say that Arcadia’s technologies will be combined with U.S. Sugar’s integrated breeding, production and processing to enable the development of high-yielding sugarcane that offers both economic benefits to growers and a measurable positive impact on the environment.
In some production areas, sugarcane can be among the most nitrogen intensive crops grown, and efficient use of nitrogen significantly contributes to higher yields in sugarcane, the companies said.
Most plants are able to use less than half of the nitrogen fertilizers applied by growers, and much of the unabsorbed nitrogen leaches into the air, helping to make agriculture the second-largest industrial contributor of greenhouse gases, Arcadia said. Nitrogen runoff also contributes to algae blooms and the creation of “dead zones” in oceans.
Agriculture is world’s biggest water consumer, accounting for at least 70 percent of fresh water withdrawal, Arcadia added.