humidicola CIAT 679) suppress soil nitrification by releasing from its roots a powerful nitrification inhibitor named brachialactone, thereby reducing emissions of nitrous oxide. This phenomenon is known as Biological Nitrification Inhibition (BNI). If a Brachiaria pasture with high BNI activity were to carry over to a subsequent crop, it might improve the crop’s nitrogen (N) use efficiency and therefore its economy, especially for crops fertilised with substantial amounts of N.
To begin reaping the environmental and economic benefits of this improved grass on a large scale, CIAT and its partners are working on several fronts. Forage grass breeders are developing superior B. humidicola hybrids and seeking to accelerate hybrid selection through the use of molecular markers. At the same time, scientists together with smallholder farmers in Colombia and Nicaragua are evaluating already available B. humidicola hybrids and learning how to optimally integrate them into crop-livestock systems. In addition, researchers are using advanced simulation models and economic analysis to project where the new hybrids can be profitably introduced.