THE GARDENER’S JOY is to straighten up after a day spent tilling the soil, to gently massage his or her aching back and heave a satisfied sigh, surveying the prepared land, now ready for planting. The weeds have all been composted and the seedbed is ready to nurture flowers or food. Equally satisfied, the farmer leans on the field gate confident of maximum yield from the crop. In both cases a fine yield can be assured by the addition of fertiliser and some well-directed pest control. Why is it necessary to add anything else? Because something is missing: the microbes that mediate in nutrition ...


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