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CERCA: Circular Economy that Reimagines Corn Agriculture

Improving Corn Sustainability and Productivity through 

Better Nitrogen Cycling 


Reduce Environmental Impact

Goal: Reduce N fertilizer inputs, greenhouse gas emissions, and water pollution by more than 50% using a combination of genetics, physiology, and agronomy


Corn uses half of the nations fertilizer, responsible for about 5% of US greenhouse gas emissions, and over half of nitrogen water pollution in much of the US. This is tapping into the diversity of maize wild relatives including perennial species to solve these problems.


Goal: Reuse Nitrogen Each season

 •Reduce N demand

•Return N to the soil at the end of each season

•Reduce fertilizer input by 50%


We are collaborating with 27 labs from across the country to do modeling, genetics, agronomy, physiology, and breeding.

Goal: Sync planting with natural systems

  • Enhanced cold tolerance

  • Flexible earlier planting

  • Tap into natural N in spring

  • Better spring growth and increased yield​​



Goal: Systems for the Farmer and Environment

Modeling frameworks are being develop from soil to plant to farm and ecosystem.

How: Tapping natural  diversity for the genetics 

Maize has wild relatives that are frost tolerant and recycle nitrogen every year.  We are using field trials, genomics, and AI to discover these genes.

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