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Soybeans need nitrogen to produce protein

Through the process of nitrogen fixation, soybean plants draw most of the nitrogen they need from the atmosphere. This is different from other crops, which require nitrogen fertilizers to be applied for them to use it.

Nitrogen is important to plant growth

This nutrient plays a role in key functions and development in soybeans. Nitrogen is a building block for plant life. Soybean plants need it to make protein and amino acids.


Nitrogen plays an important part in plant growth as it is a component of chlorophyll, which takes in light through photosynthesis and converts it to energy.

Prevalent in the atmosphere, but mostly unusable

Even though it’s all around in the atmosphere, most plants are unable to draw the nitrogen they need from the atmosphere. Soybeans are able to fix most of their own nitrogen.

clouds over a soybean field being harvested

Symbiotic nitrogen fixation

Microorganisms that live in very small nodules on the soybean’s roots fix nitrogen to make it usable for the soybean plant.

Working together

These microorganisms get the food they need from the root of the plant while converting atmospheric nitrogen into something the soybean plant can use.

Back into the soil

Not only do soybeans fix the nitrogen they need but they add nitrogen into soil.

Nitrogen fixing provides for soybeans and future crops

As part of a crop rotation where farmers rotate which crops they plant each year, soybeans help farmers prepare soil and use fewer resources for the next season’s crop.

Provides nitrogen for future crops

While crops like corn take nitrogen out of the soil, soybeans add it back in. Rotating corn and soybeans provide corn with additional nitrogen.

Fewer crop inputs

Not only do soybeans not require nitrogen fertilizer, but because soybeans add nitrogen into the soil, next year’s crop will need fewer inputs to keep the crop healthy.