Metagenomics: mapping the mysteries of soil

A typical teaspoon of agricultural soil contains more than a billion living organisms. This biodiversity plays a key role in the ability of soil to support plant life, including agricultural crops, although identifying and counting soil microbes is an incredibly difficult task. But as the FT’s science editor Clive Cookson explains, new molecular fingerprinting technology known as metagenomics is coming to the rescue.

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The future of farming in drought-hardened Australia?

In Australia, droughts are becoming more frequent and severe, reducing agricultural output in a $36bn industry. Till the rains came early this year, farmers in New South Wales had suffered their worst drought on record. But as the FT’s Jamie Smyth discovers, they’re fighting back in a variety of ways, ranging from digital moisture measurement to satellite mapping and innovative crop rotation.

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