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Pongamia 5781-A: Nitrogen production, a natural desert reclamation process

In this update, we are delighted to share priceless findings from our ongoing research on our elite Pongamia tree strain, 5781-A. Today, we unveil a remarkable characteristic of this tree: its innate ability to generate nitrogen in the harshest desert environments. We're proud to present the results of our tests conducted across three distinct soil types.

Nitrogen nodules, formations on the tree's root system, are at the heart of this phenomenon. While some may mistake these nodules for signs of disease, they are, in fact, a testament to the symbiotic relationship our Pongamia tree shares with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

These bacteria, residing within the root nodules, convert atmospheric nitrogen (N2) into forms accessible to plants—ammonium (NH4) and nitrate (NO3) ions—through a process known as nitrogen fixation. This natural nitrogen fixation process plays a crucial role in environmental sustainability and agricultural productivity:

  • It enriches the soil with nitrogen from a renewable source.

  • It facilitates the natural cycling of nutrients in ecosystems.

  • It promotes soil fertility, particularly for organic farming and soil rehabilitation efforts.

These bacteria assimilate approximately 70% to 80% of atmospheric nitrogen, underscoring their significance in the nitrogen cycle and soil enrichment.

Our tests, conducted between 2022 and 2023 on Negev Desert soil, Central Israel (Mediterranean) soil, and potting mix soil, demonstrate the exceptional performance of our genetic variety, particularly in the challenging desert soil and harsh conditions. 

Notably, the desert soil exhibited nearly three times the amount of nitrogen nodules and natural nitrogen production compared to Central Israel soil and potting mix; this underscores the potential of cultivating Pongamia 5781-A in severely degraded lands and arid regions, offering a sustainable approach to land reclamation through emission-free nitrogen production.

Our genetic strain thrives in diverse soil conditions, yet it excels particularly in infertile soils! Desert landscapes witness the highest abundance of nitrogen nodules and natural nitrogen production, nearly threefold compared to Central Israel soil and potting mix.

Hence, cultivating the Pongamia 5781-A variety in deserts and degraded lands offers a natural reclamation solution, harnessing substantial nitrogen production without emissions!

We extend our gratitude to the dedicated specialists at the ARO institute for their ongoing partnership and invaluable contributions to this shared success.

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