Larry Purcell, Distinguished Professor of soybean physiology for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, led a research project to identify soybeans with genetics for high rates of nitrogen fixation. This biological function is important for producing grain with high protein concentration.

“If a plant can access more nitrogen, that allows it to produce more protein,” Purcell says.

He took a unique approach to quickly and efficiently screening large amounts of data – aerial imaging from an off-the-shelf drone. The study, Genome-Wide Association Mapping of Dark Green Color Index using a Diverse Panel of Soybean Accessions, was funded by the soy checkoff.

The results will assist soybean breeders in developing soybeans in developing higher-yielding soybeans with more concentrated protein.