Instead, the Freiburg scientists are looking at a new approach. They're taking plants like sunflowers, corn, reed canary grass, and using them for phytomining. Others have used this method in the past with other metals like gold and copper. It involves, basically, mining plants. In this case, the scientists harvest the plants, which accumulate germanium after the roots and shoots soak up the element from the soil. They are then fermented and processed for biogas before extracting the germanium, which makes the method more efficient.