Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Agricultural Research Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
ARS News and InformationSearch News and InfoScience for KidsImage GalleryAgricultural Research MagazinePublications and NewslettersNews ArchiveNews and Info homeARS News and Information
Latest news | Subscribe

Photo: Soybean yields are higher after seed inoculation with the Nod+ nitrogen-fixing strain of bacteria. Link to photo information
Click image for caption and other photo information.

Read the magazine story to find out more.

Yield-Boosting Bacterium for Soybeans Earns Kudos

By Jan Suszkiw
May 3, 2002

A lowly soil bacterium first cultured two decades ago by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists is now enjoying "celebrity" status as a yield-boosting, commercial soybean inoculant.

Since licensing rights on the bacterium in 1994 from ARS, Urbana Laboratories, of St. Joseph, Mo., has sold enough of the inoculant to treat 14 million acres of soybeans. Formerly known as Bradyrhizobium japonicum strain TA11Nod+, and now known commercially as the “USDA strain,” the bacterium converts gaseous nitrogen into forms soybeans can use for optimal growth and higher yield. This process also saves on synthetic fertilizer costs and nourishes soils at rates less likely to affect groundwater.

ARS microbiologists David Kuykendall and Jim Hunter originally developed, tested, and in 1991 patented the Nod+ strain as an improvement over existing Bradyrhizobium strains that soybean farmers had been using.

Kuykendall, with the then-named Soybean and Alfalfa Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., is now at the Molecular Plant Pathology Laboratory there. Hunter, his associate, is with the agency's Plant, Soil and Nutrient Research Unit in Fort Collins, Colo.

In early tests, their Nod+ strain fixed 50 percent more nitrogen when inoculated onto soybean roots than did B. japonicum 1-110, a top-performing inoculant. Subsequent field trials conducted by Extension scientists at 377 sites across 18 states indicated that use of the nod+ strain boosted soybean yields by 2 to 3 bushels per acre.

Since the Nod+ strain's commercial introduction by Urbana, Hunter estimates the new inoculant has increased soybean yields by nearly 30 million bushels. At $5 per bushel, this translates to an additional $150 million in gross income for farmers.

A longer story about this work appears in the May issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.

Top|News Staff|Photo Staff

E-mail the web teamPrivacy and other policiesSite mapAbout ARS Information StaffBottom menu

Home | News | Pubs | Magazine | Photos | Sci4Kids | Search
About ARS Info | Site map | Policies | E-mail us

Last Modified: 5/15/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page