Improving Vegetable Soybean Seedling Emergence Through Novel Organic Seed Treatments

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2022: $14,998.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2024
Grant Recipient: Virginia Tech
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Steven Rideout
Virginia Tech


  • Agronomic: soybeans
  • Vegetables: edamame


  • Crop Production: crop improvement and selection, plant breeding and genetics
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Demand in the United States for vegetable soybean or edamame (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) has increased over the past two decades owing to its excellent nutritional value and health benefits. It has become the second largest soyfood consumed in the US (25,000-30,000 tons annually). Domestic edamame production is limited in the US, and at least 70% of the edamame consumed is imported. Poor seed germination and seedling emergence reduces yield and is one of the major production problems in the US. This proposal seeks to identify effective organic seed treatments to improve edamame emergence using high-throughput phenotyping. We will use digital image analysis to rapidly evaluate and screen hundreds of edamame seed/seedling phenotypes. Our system will assess effects of organic seed treatments to enhance seedling emergence and vigor and sustainably control soilborne diseases. The proposed study will have a strong impact on the edamame supply chain by: 1. improving edamame emergence and resulting yields; 2. improving the sustainability of crop production for low input and organic producers by providing alternative management strategies free of synthetic pesticides; 3. using high-throughput phenotyping to help breeders select desirable traits more efficiently and rapidly with superior quantification. Overall, this research will benefit producers by strengthening and diversifying agricultural economies in local and regional markets in the mid-Atlantic region. The findings of this research will be disseminated to researchers, growers, extension agents, and the seed and seed treatment companies through publications, presentations, field days, and workshops.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The goal of the proposed project is to identify efficacious organic seed treatments (either microbial or natural plant based) to improve edamame emergence and stand establishment using high-throughput phenotyping to evaluate large populations. Current commercial biological seed treatments, along with experimental growth enhancing microbes, and plant extracts will be tested for their effects on edamame seedling growth promotion and/or disease control. The goals will be achieved with two studies assessing (1) Growth promoting novel organic seed treatments for their ability to improve total emergence percentage, mean time to emergence, root growth, aboveground biomass, and leaf area through a combination of digital analysis and manual observation of edamame seedlings; and (2) assessing efficacy of organic seed treatments on edamame seeds against multiple soilborne diseases. Soybean sudden death syndrome (SDS) causing by Fusarium virguliforme, seedling blight and root rot causing by Rhizoctonia solani, seedling damp-off causing by Pythium sp., and southern stem rot caused by Sclerotium rolfsii are the common soil-borne diseases that kill and rot seeds before germination or cause seedling death. Novel natural plant extracts and biological seed treatments will be tested for their sustainable control of these diseases.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.