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An aerial view of a combine harvesting corn in a field near Jarrettsville, Md. A new study ties an estimated 4,300 premature deaths a year to the air pollution caused by corn production in the U.S. Edwin Remsberg/Getty Images hide caption

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Edwin Remsberg/Getty Images

Endophytes are microbes that live inside plants — the ones tagged with a fluorescent dye in this image are found in poplars. The microbes gather nitrogen from the air, turning it into a form plants can use, a process called nitrogen fixation. Researchers are looking at how these microbes could be used to help crops like rice and corn make their own fertilizer. Sam Scharffenberger hide caption

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Sam Scharffenberger

A prep cook at a San Francisco restaurant drops fish skin into a food scrap recycling container. Turning food waste into fertilizer is popular in parts of Europe and is catching on in the U.S. But tiny plastics are also making their way into that fertilizer — and into the food chain. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Another Place Plastics Are Turning Up: Organic Fertilizer From Food Waste

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Anhydrous ammonia tanks in a newly planted wheat field. Walmart has promised big cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases. To meet that goal, though, the giant retailer may have to persuade farmers to use less fertilizer. It won't be easy. TheBusman/Getty Images hide caption

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TheBusman/Getty Images

Can Anyone, Even Walmart, Stem The Heat-Trapping Flood Of Nitrogen On Farms?

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The teal blue area along the Louisiana coastline represents a "dead zone" of oxygen-depleted water. Resulting from nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the Mississippi River, it can potentially hurt fisheries. NASA/Getty Images hide caption

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NASA/Getty Images

The Gulf Of Mexico's Dead Zone Is The Biggest Ever Seen

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A cereal rye cover crop grows (at left) in a field where corn was recently harvested. Cover crops can capture nutrients such as nitrate and prevent them from polluting nearby streams. Courtesy of Paul Jasa/University of Nebraska-Lincoln hide caption

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Courtesy of Paul Jasa/University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Here's How To End Iowa's Great Nitrate Fight

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The city of Des Moines, Iowa, sits on the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers. The city's water works says it will sue three neighboring counties for high nitrate levels in these waterways. iStockphoto hide caption

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iStockphoto

Iowa's Largest City Sues Over Farm Fertilizer Runoff In Rivers

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More than 170 volunteers in the Brattleboro, Vt., area have contributed urine to the Rich Earth Institute field trials. Mike Earley/Courtesy of Rich Earth Institute hide caption

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Mike Earley/Courtesy of Rich Earth Institute

A woman shops in the produce section at Whole Foods in New York City. The company recently announced it would prohibit produce farmed using biosolids in its stores. Stephen Chernin/Getty Images hide caption

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Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

Thick jets of processed sewage arc out 30 to 40 feet from giant moving spreaders at Birmingham Farm in Kansas City, Mo. Frank Morris for NPR hide caption

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Frank Morris for NPR

Cities Turn Sewage Into 'Black Gold' For Local Farms

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