Modifying soybean seeds to increase phosphorus content can improve animal nutrition and reduce feed costs and nutrient pollution, according to a recent study.

In the study, one modified soybean variety had better seedling field emergence than the control, which had a normal phosphorus value. The performance of this soybean line, developed by Dr. Joe Burton at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, is evidence that improved seed germination and field emergence of modified phosphorus soybeans are possible. “Based on our experience with the North Carolina line, soybean breeders working with the low-phytate trait now know that good seed germination and emergence is an attainable objective,” said Dr. Katy Martin Rainy, one of the study’s authors. “Our study provides breeders with critical insights on how to do this.”

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The project was funded by the United Soybean Board.