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Soybean plants in intensive care
Intravenous feeding of soybeans and corn helps plant scientists find "outer limits" of crop improvement so they know just what's possible to achieve under ideal conditions.
Dale Blevins, professor of agronomy at the University of Missouri says feeding nutrients directly into the"veins" of crops is the perfect way to feed them. Although he explains that the idea obviously will never be practical for field crops, he thinks the idea could be justified on high-value horticultural or orchard crops.
In soybeans, he adds methionine, the limiting amino acid in soybean protein, and has been able to increase methionine con-tent in soybeans by 20 percent. If that level could be achieved consistently in the field, poultry and swine farmers wouldn't have to add supplements to soybean meal to make up for methionine.
"We've also tried boric acid in the IV's and found more branching and more pods on branches," says Blevins.
In other experiments, IV's were used for phosphorous feeding and in corn, direct-feeding of the hormone cytokinin has shown good results.
By "pushing" crops to their peak levels of performance, the scientists say they're discovering just how far they've still got to go in plant breeding programs or in developing new plant feeding techniques.


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1992 - Volume #16, Issue #4