Project Details:

In support of the Iowa Soybean Research Center (2017)

Parent Project: In support of the Iowa Soybean Research Center
Checkoff Organization:Iowa Soybean Association
Categories:Research coordination
Organization Project Code:450-47-07
Project Year:2017
Lead Principal Investigator:Gregory Tylka (Iowa State University)
Co-Principal Investigators:

Contributing Organizations

Funding Institutions

Information and Results

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Project Summary

Iowa is the nation’s leading producer of soybeans. And as such, Iowa is home to many organizations and companies that strive to improve the plant health, yields and profitability of soybean production for farmers, including Iowa State University, the Iowa Soybean Association, numerous multinational and Iowa-based seed, chemical and technology companies, and local farm cooperatives, grain elevators and others who provide crop inputs and services to farmers. However, no mechanism exists to foster collaboration and exchange of information among the various entities conducting research and education activities to serve Iowa’s soybean farmers.

The Iowa Soybean Research Center was established in June 2014 to bring together scientists and educators from public and private entities to discuss research and education needs, share research and education experiences, ideas and technologies, and offer opportunities to sponsor efforts, either exclusively or jointly with others, to advance the science and business of growing soybeans in Iowa.

Project Objectives

The intellectual focus of the Iowa Soybean Research Center is all university activities related to soybean biology, breeding, economics, precision agriculture, production and pest management in the state. The ultimate, long-term goal of the center is to advance understanding of soybean plant biology and to increase soybean production and make production more profitable and environmentally sustainable in the future. Specific goals of the center are:
• To forge strong public-private partnerships.
• To sustain communication and collaboration with soybean farmers and the agricultural industry about needs for soybean research and education activities by ISU and the Iowa Soybean Association, and to increase the coordination of those activities among the industry, the Iowa Soybean Association and ISU.
• To increase training of undergraduate and graduate students and other personnel for soybean-related research, education and production activities.
• To increase public and private funding of soybean-related research and education activities.
• To deliver research-based information to benefit the Iowa soybean industry.
• To increase communication with farmers and industry about soybean-related research and education activities at ISU and the Iowa Soybean Association.
• To increase active engagement of farmers and align others in the soybean value chain so that dividends from investments in leadership, research and education integration are accelerated.

Project Deliverables

There will be numerous deliverables and outcomes from the Iowa Soybean Research Center, (ISRC) including:
• increased coordination of soybean research and education activities with that of the Iowa Soybean Association staff and agribusiness personnel in Iowa
• increased exchange of ideas and information and participation in crop conferences and educational meetings held by Iowa State University and the Iowa Soybean Association
• increased cooperative research conducted by ISU scientists and the ISA On-Farm Network and the ISA Environmental Programs and Services scientists
• leveraged funding of soybean production research and education activities by the soybean checkoff and the soybean industry

Progress of Work

Updated February 13, 2019:
The ISRC hosted the Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) Farmer Board Members and staff to an event on the Iowa State University campus and ISU Field Extension Education Lab (FEEL). The event included a welcome from ISU’s President Leath, talks from numerous soybean researchers sharing updates about their current research activities, tours of the Seed Science Center, and lunch on the Agronomy courtyard lawn with Dean Wintersteen and Cy, the ISU mascot.

The center’s Industry Advisory Council (IAC) met on September 12. In attendance were council members, including other industry representatives, and ISA’s On-Farm Network, Analytics, and Environment Programs and Services leaders. The council received project updates from current center-funded researchers and agreed to support a proposed two-year research project from Gwyn Beattie and Danny Singh on, “Root and microbiome traits to tailor the next-gen soybean cultivars for robust plant and soil health”.

Throughout the fall months, the ISRC and ISA continued to work on a cooperative survey of fields throughout Iowa for the presence of the soybean cyst nematode (SCN). The samples were collected and processed from a total of 106 fields surveyed. The most notable results, were very low egg counts (50 and 100 eggs per 100 cc soil) discovered in samples collected from a field in Allamakee County. This confirms SCN in the last of all 99 Iowa counties. Ed Anderson and Scott Nelson from the ISA meet bi-monthly with the center’s Clarke McGrath and Greg Tylka to communicate and discuss these surveys and other On-Farm Network projects.

The ISRC sponsored two prominent conferences this winter.
1. The 2016 Soybean Cyst Nematode Conference in conjunction with three other Midwest soybean centers (Illinois Soybean Center, Purdue Soybean Center, and The Ohio State University Center for Soybean Research).
2. The ISA Research Conference, in which the center provided financial support as a sponsor, paid for all ISU students, faculty, and staff who registered, and provided free transportation to/from the ISU campus and the conference.
The ISRC is available to help other researchers who need assistance coordinating meetings and events as they relate to soybean production. Jill Cornelis works with faculty and staff in a variety of ways. This winter, she helped with advertisement for the 2017 Soil Health Conference held in Ames on February 16-17. Jill also managed a Fusarium researchers coordination meeting for Dr. Leandro with invited guest speakers from the universities of North Dakota and Minnesota. Currently, Jill and Greg are developing a plan for farm visits this summer and fall, in which ISU researchers will visit Iowa soybean farmers at their farm to talk about their farming operation. The idea is to give ISU soybean researchers a first-hand look at what an Iowa farmer is doing because many researchers may not know everything involved in farming or may not have visited an actual corn-soybean farm in Iowa.

The center is excited about new funding received from a donor to support efforts in communicating and promoting the center’s mission, expertise and research findings to a broader audience. Keith Smith is a long-time advisor of state soybean associations and reviewer of soybean checkoff-funded research, and wants to provide the center with three years of funding to support the development of a print brochure highlighting the diversity of the ISRC’s research endeavors and its researchers. Support will also help the center create a strong identity and virtual presence. The center is presently working with a web designer to put together the site and we hope to have it live soon.
The ISRC hosted a “Think Tank” Workshop this month, facilitated by Paul and Jake Kirpes, TPG Companies The group included ISA Farmer Board Members, ISU field agronomists, and ISU soybean researchers to find research needs the center can support in helping soybean growers advance production. In all, 31 participated in answering questions regarding challenges in soybean production, milestones to reach in soybean production research, impacts to soybean producers, yields, profitability, etc.

The ISRC is the central hub to ISU researchers interested in application materials for the Iowa Soybean Association and North Central Soybean Research Program’s (NCSRP) 2017 Requests for Proposals. The center will also provide guidance to researchers who want assistance putting together budgets, etc.

On April 4, 2017, a group of Midwest soybean centers and soybean associations met in Columbia, MO to talk about each center’s mission and vision, and to build collaborations among the group. We hope to have more develop with this group. A planned follow up meeting is being worked out during the World Soybean Research Conference in September 2017.

Updated February 13, 2019:
• The ISRC coordinated:
1) a meeting of the Fusarium group with invited speakers from North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota,
2) an SCN survey of Iowa working through USDA NASS,
3) an SCN and Soybean Aphid Resistance Management clinic, and
4) an Industry Advisory Council meeting to discuss new research opportunities to support.

• The center hosted two big events this year:
1) the second “Think Tank” Workshop was held in March and was facilitated by Paul and Jake Kirpes, TPG Companies. There were 31 workshop participants including ISA Board Members and staff, ISU extension field agronomists, and ISU soybean researchers, and
2) A summer Farm Tour for 18 ISU researcher and extension faculty, students, and staff, who traveled to Pella, IA, and Collins, IA, in July to talk directly with farmers about their farming operations. Articles of the farm tour appeared in Wallaces Farmer and ISA Newsroom.

• The ISRC sponsored and co-sponsored four conferences this year:
1) 2016 Soybean Cyst Nematode Conference,
2) 2017 ISA Research Conference,
3) The World Soybean Research Conference Ten, and
4) The Iowa World Soybean Research Conference (held after the WSRC10 was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma).

• The center assisted faculty with proposal submissions to the ISA and NCSRP, and a pre-proposal to the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) to leverage the microbiome project of Gwyn Beattie and Danny Singh.
• In early April, Greg Tylka and Jill Cornelis traveled to Columbia, MO, to participate in the ISA-led Midwest Soybean Centers’ Meeting. We learned the ISRC is the only soybean center working together in close partnership with the state soybean association, the only center partnering with industry, and the only center working to engage farmers in identifying research needs.
• Clarke McGrath, ISRC’s on-farm research and extension coordinator, received the Iowa Master Farmer’s “Exceptional Service to Iowa Agriculture Award,” at the 2017 Iowa Master Farmer Awards Day. Henry A. Wallace started the Master Farmer Award and the Wallaces Farmer Magazine sponsors the event each year.
• Clarke McGrath is doing corn rootworm sampling in fields around the state to support larger efforts being conducted by Scott Nelson, director of the ISA On-Farm Network. Clarke also coordinated the effort with two ISU Extension field agronomists, Rebecca Vittetoe and Meaghan Anderson.
• Clarke McGrath is helping identify farmers who could be effective leaders in project areas for the Integrated Pest Resistance Management Plan (IPRMP). Clarke is making connections between the pilot project coordinators of the IPRMP and farmers in the pilot areas.
• A center website and brochure are being developed to share scientific-based research knowledge with farmers and to communicate the center’s mission. The website is ready to launch this fall.
Looking ahead at upcoming events:
• The ISRC will host the ISA Board Directors for an afternoon of research presentations, poster sessions, and discussions with ISU soybean researchers on the ISU campus January 30, 2018. The center is currently working on details.

• Steve May is an industry support consultant for the Iowa Soybean Association and is responsible for developing relationships with commercial companies to increase the number of product trials, financial income and in-kind contributions.

Due to the slow response from industry to partner with the Iowa Soybean Research Center, the ISA approved funding to support Steve’s services toward the development of the center’s industry partnerships. This support was approved by the ISA Board in June 2017.

Although Steve’s services didn’t begin until October 1, he was already talking to companies this summer and early fall about the center and discussing the benefits to industry partners.

Steve and Greg have an upcoming meeting with John Deere & Company next month. Steve is also contacting industry guests who attended the Industry Advisory Council meeting in September 2017 to follow up on their interest in becoming industry partners.

The Center's Management Team will meet and discuss new project proposal topics to consider for possible funding.

Final Project Results

Updated February 13, 2019:
The following is a progress update for the Iowa Soybean Research Center (ISRC) from fall 2017 through December 2017.
The ISRC hosted the Industry Advisory Council (IAC) meeting in Ankeny, Iowa at the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) offices September 8. Guests from AgSolver, DuPont-Pioneer, and Beck’s Hybrids joined the existing council members from Cornelius Seed, Bayer CropScience, and Monsanto. Two postdocs working on the center-funded root phenotype-microbiome research project provided an update on their progress and three new research proposals were discussed, seeking input from council members. The Center’s Management Team met in October to follow up on the proposal discussion the IAC started. With much discussion, the management team decided to table the proposals and not fund any new research at this time.

The ISRC’s website,, is now live. The center initiated a soft launch this fall to select faculty, staff, and Iowa farmers asking for feedback. This winter a full launch of the site is planned, once the suggested changes have been addressed. Please feel free to send us your comments,
Clarke was busy this growing season by coordinating efforts with ISU Extension Field Agronomists to collect soil samples around Iowa in support of larger efforts conducted by Scott Nelson and the ISA research team to survey Iowa for SCN. Clarke also collaborated on a corn-root worm survey count, a tryptophan trial, and pyrethroid spray trial for soybean aphids.

Jill collected data for Ed Anderson, ISA, from ISU principal investigators (PI’s) who received checkoff support through ISA and/or the NCSRP. The information includes the number of peer-reviewed publications, licensing agreements, extension publications, presentations given at field days and professional conferences, and any webcasts, videos, and interviews benefitting farmer training. Ed wants these figures on hand to share when asked by board members and others interested in such numbers.

Steve May, ISA’s industry liaison, officially started October 1 providing assistance with identifying new industry partners for the ISRC. Greg and Steve talked with a group from John Deere in Johnston, Iowa in early November about a potential partnership. Steve also had a meeting with personnel from Winfield United in December about becoming a partner with the Center. Steve continues to make connections with industry including a possible meeting with Valent.
The ISRC was featured in an article on the ISA Newsroom site this fall reiterating the Center’s continued focus on its mission to align all soybean-related activities at ISU with the needs of Iowa soybean farmers and the industry that supports soybean production. The article summed up the Center’s activities over the past four years.
The Midwest Soybean Centers and state checkoff associations met in St. Louis early December to give activity updates happening at each state soybean center and discuss possible collaboration efforts. A joint proposal of the Centers will be sent to USB addressing opportunities to support broader, and more coordinated communication efforts promoting checkoff-funded research results to farmers and the public. Tom Fontana, Ohio Soybean Council, volunteered to lead the proposal initiative.

Drs. Gwyn Beattie and Danny Singh, ISU faculty working on the center-supported root-phenotyping and microbiome project, have been invited to submit a full proposal to the USDA Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR).
More ISRC activities this fall:
• Greg provided Center updates to the ISU Extension Crops Team during their fall in-service meeting, the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP) Board Meeting members in St. Louis, and the Midwest Soybean Research Centers’ Directors and Staff Meeting in St. Louis.
• Sponsorship was provided by the Center to Focus on Soybeans educational webcasts through the Plant Management Network.
• The Center supplied a donation of ISA-branded items to the College of Ag and Life Sciences online auction to raise funds in support of the United Way of Story County.
• The ISRC moved to a temporary office in Agronomy Hall, room 1563. The date and final destination in Agronomy Hall is yet to be determined for the Center.
• The Center is working to expand future ISU faculty and staff farm tours to include visits three times a year, beginning this spring, summer and fall 2018.
• On behalf of the ISRC, Jill Cornelis and Clarke McGrath volunteered to help at the ICM Conference in Ames, Iowa late November.
• In the discussion stage, is an idea for the ISRC to collaborate with the ISU Agronomy Club in developing an event (tentatively call Soy Fest) centered on students when fall classes begin in 2018. The focus is soybean awareness and the various uses of soybeans.

Looking ahead:
1) An event for ISA Board Directors, January 31, featuring ISU soybean research faculty sharing their research with the farmer-board directors.
2) ISA’s Farmer Research Conference, February 6-7, 2018 - the ISRC will again cover all registration fees and arrange for transportation to and from the conference for all ISU participants (faculty, students, and staff). The center sponsored 52 ISU attendees for the 2017 conference.
3) A meeting is set mid-January for an On-Farm coordination discussion between ISU research farms and ISA’s On-Farm programs.

Benefit to Soybean Farmers

Performance Metrics

Project Years