Soybean growers may soon be able to plant a non-transgenically modified soybean variety that improves nitrogen recovery from land-applied manure. That's thanks to a soybean germplasm developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in North Carolina.

The germplasm, called Nitrasoy, removes large amounts of nitrogen applied to soil. If developed into a new cultivar, it could become an ideal candidate for livestock producers to help them manage manure generated by their operations.

Today’s commercial nodulating soybean varieties pull nitrogen gas from the atmosphere and turn it into nitrogen fertilizer. Nitrogen gas makes up about 80 percent of the atmosphere. Soybean plants use the nitrogen fertilizer to make proteins.

In comparison, Nitrasoy is a non-nodulating soybean germplasm that requires a large amount of soil-applied nitrogen for excellent seed yield. Its capacity to recover soil-applied nitrogen reduces the risk of possible nitrate pollution of groundwater.

In field tests, Nitrasoy accumulated up to 17 percent more soil-applied nitrogen in its seed than did its parent, D68-0099. In other tests, Nitrasoy was No. 1 in average seed yield when compared to three other genotypes, after each had been fertilized with swine-lagoon effluent.

Nitrasoy was created at the ARS Soybean and Nitrogen Fixation Research Unit in Raleigh, N.C. Agronomist Joseph Burton, physiologist Daniel Israel and microbiologist Paul Bishop developed the germplasm.

Nitrasoy seed has been deposited in the NationalCenter for Genetic Resources Preservation and the National Plant Germplasm System. Nitrasoy seeds are available for research purposes from the ARS lab in Raleigh.