Lots of soybean researchers work with soybean genes to improve yield, composition and resistance to various pests. That includes U.S. Department of Agriculture soybean researcher Tommy Carter (right), but he’s doing it a little differently.
Instead of working directly with genes from soybean varieties that farmers commonly plant, Carter works with genes from soybean lines that have been growing wild in China for thousands of years. He believes these wild lines hold valuable genetic diversity that can be used to improve current commercial varieties.
“When the soybean was first domesticated from the annual wild soybean, only a few of the genes that were existing in all of the wild soybean were brought into the crop that we have today. What we left behind is a whole treasure trove of diversity that nobody’s ever tried to tap.”
Thanks in part to the Soy Checkoff’s support of research, the national average soybean yield has increased by 15 bushels per acre since 1981.
For more information on how checkoff-funded research benefits soybean farmers, visit www.UNITEDSOYBEAN.ORG.