Stubby roots grow on corn stalks brought from Oaxaca, Mexico, to a lab in Madison.
The roots create gel that ultimately helps the corn fertilize itself.
Farmers in a small area of southern Mexico knew that a variety of corn grown in the area was special.
The potential improvements in water and air quality — not to mention financial savings — are staggering.
But scientists at University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of California-Davis and Mars Inc. (yes, the candymaker) have determined that farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico, have been growing corn that creates its own fertilizer for centuries if not millennia.