Project Details:

In support of the Iowa Soybean Research Center

Parent Project: In support of the Iowa Soybean Research Center
Checkoff Organization:Iowa Soybean Association
Categories:Research coordination
Organization Project Code:
Project Year:2018
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 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, 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 ISA On-Farm Network and 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 March 26, 2018:
The World Soybean Research Conference (WSRC) scheduled for September 2017 in Savannah, Georgia, was cancelled due to hurricane Irma. In response, two ISU Agronomy faculty, Jamie O’Rourke and Michelle Graham, decided all of the work researchers put into presentations and posters for the conference shouldn’t go to waste. In collaboration with the Iowa Soybean Research Center and the ISU Agronomy Department, the “Iowa World Soybean Research Conference” was held on the ISU campus September 13, 2017. Speakers from Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska who were scheduled to give talks and poster presentations at the WSRC were invited to Ames to share their research as part of the one-day conference. You can find recordings of these talks on the ISRC’s website,, under the Events tab.
Yes, the center’s new website,, is live. We encourage you to peruse the site and send your ideas, suggestions, and comments to
The ISRC’s Management Team met in late October 2017 to follow up on the proposal discussion begun at the Industry Advisory Council (IAC) meeting, September 8, 2017. After much discussion, the Management Team decided to “table” the proposals and not fund any new research at that time. It was suggested to ask the researchers currently funded by ISRC, Gwyn Beattie and Danny Singh, to submit a proposal for a third year of funding toward their root-phenotyping and microbiome project. The Management Team agreed to follow up in six months to consider a proposal from Beattie and Singh, if submitted.
Clarke McGrath, ISRC’s Extension and On-Farm Research Coordinator, was busy in the 2017 growing season coordinating efforts with ISU Extension Field Agronomists to collect soil samples around Iowa in support of larger efforts conducted by Scott Nelson and the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) research team to survey Iowa for SCN. Clarke also collaborated on corn rootworm survey counts, a tryptophan trial, and a pyrethroid spray trial for soybean aphids.
Jill Cornelis gathered data for Ed Anderson, ISA, from ISU principal investigators (PI’s) who received checkoff support through ISA and/or the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP). The information included 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 will share the information with ISA board members and others interested in such data.
Steve May, ISA’s industry liaison, began providing assistance with identifying new industry partners for the ISRC on October 1, 2017. Greg Tylka and Steve met with a group from John Deere in Urbandale, Iowa, in early November 2017 about a potential partnership. Steve also met with personnel from Winfield United in December 2017 about becoming a partner with the Center. Steve continues to make connections with industry, including possible upcoming meetings with Syngenta and Valent.
The ISRC was featured in an article on the ISA Newsroom site in October 2017 describing 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 since its inception in July 2014.
The Midwest soybean centers and state checkoff associations met in St. Louis early December 2017 to give updates on activities happening at each state soybean center and to discuss possible collaboration efforts. A joint proposal of the centers will be sent to the United Soybean Board (USB) in 2018 requesting funds to support broad, proactive, and coordinated communication efforts promoting checkoff-funded research results to farmers and the public. Tom Fontana, Director of Research and Education for the Ohio Soybean Council, volunteered to lead the proposal development.
In January 2018, Mark Honeyman and Mike Witt from ISU’s research farms group and Ed Anderson and Scott Nelson from the ISA On-Farm Network met with ISRC staff to discuss on-farm collaborations. Honeyman and Witt began the discussion by providing an overview of the ISU on-farm demonstrations, explaining they work with farmers on small-scale demonstration and that any farmer interested in larger-scale, more in-depth, replicated research trials would be referred to the ISA On-Farm Network team. Clarke will represent the center at future bi-monthly meetings of ISA and ISU on-farm project staff to further these collaborative efforts.
The center hosted the Iowa Soybean Association’s farmer Board of Directors and the ISA staff at an event at the Sukup End Zone Club on the Iowa State University campus on January 31, 2018. Dr. Ruth MacDonald, Interim Senior Associate Dean for the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, welcomed the group with a brief update on the college. Nearly 30 ISU faculty talked with board members and staff about their research through poster and oral presentations.
The four oral presentations were:
1. Gwyn Beattie from Plant Pathology and Microbiology talked about her current ISRC-funded project in collaboration with Danny Singh, “Root and microbiome traits to tailor the next-gen soybean cultivars.”
2. Steve Whitham from Plant Pathology and Microbiology shared his research on, “CRISPR gene editing and soybean.”
3. Arti Singh from Agronomy presented, “ICQP paradigm for soybean high throughput stress phenotyping.”
4. Baskar Ganapathysubramanian from Mechanical Engineering talked about, “Data analysis, computer vision, and machine learning to enable row-crop agriculture,” including his collaborative work with other researchers around campus.
Dr. Gwyn Beattie, the ISU scientist working on the center-supported root-phenotyping and microbiome project with Danny Singh, submitted a pre-proposal to the USDA Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and was invited to submit a full proposal due the end of January 2018. Awards are anticipated to be announced in March 2018.
• The center is working to continue taking ISU faculty and staff on tours of Iowa farms and businesses that support soybean farming in Iowa. We currently are planning a trip for March 29, 2018, with 15 to 20 ISU researchers to talk with personnel from Hertz Farm Management in Nevada, Iowa, and North Central Co-op in Clarion, Iowa.
• In the works, is an idea for the ISRC to host an event, SoyFest, centered on students when fall classes begin in August 2019. The focus is soybean awareness and the various uses of soybeans. Plans are still in the early stages, but we would like to involve as many soybean-related groups as possible both from on campus, industry, ISA, etc. Jill is working with Linda Funk and Heather Lilienthal, ISA, on collaborative efforts to put a campus event together.

Final Project Results

Updated September 18, 2018:
ISRC events:
A spring farm tour was hosted by the ISRC on March 29. We took nine ISU researchers on a one-day trip that included a visit to the North Central Cooperative in Clarion, Iowa and the Hertz Farm Management Office in Nevada, Iowa. The first stop included a visit of the main elevator site for the North Central Cooperative. John Holmes welcomed our group and Angie Rieck-Hinz, an ISU Extension Field Specialist in this county, joined us. John and his team talked about the grain elevator business as well as its expansion into the ag retailing business. Our group was given a virtual tour of the company’s other grain elevator locations around the area and we were able to walk around the elevator’s weigh station area to see how a grain load is weighed and sampled. After lunch, we were hosted by Dick Pringnitz on a tour of the Hertz Farm Management Offices in Nevada, Iowa. Dick and his colleague, Tim Fevold, provided an overview on the history of the company and how farm management has changed for them since its origin in 1946. Dick and Tim walked us through the building pointing out when and where the building expanded as their business grew.
In late June, the ISRC hosted a summer field tour through north central Iowa for ISU soybean researchers. The trip began with a visit and tour of the Van Diest Supply Co. in Webster City. Then we had lunch and a tour of the ISU Northern Research and Demonstration Farm in Kanawha. We were joined there by Dean Coleman, ASA Board Member from Humboldt, and Heather Lilienthal and Bre Wagner of ISA’s Producer Services team. The day concluded with a visit with Dan Beenken, former ISA Board Member, at his farm near Buffalo Center where he talked with the group about farming with his sons and business partners, his seed and equipment dealers, etc. Dan had several pieces of his farm equipment on display for tour participants to see. The second day of the tour was spent talking to Amy and Harlan Asmus and touring Asmus Farm Supply in Rake, learning about their business, which provides inputs and services to the soybean farmers of north central Iowa. Allie Arp, ISA Communications, traveled with the group and wrote the following article, “A Better Perspective on Production Research,” for the July 17, 2018, ISA Research Advance e-newsletter. The article can also be found on the ISRC’s website,, under the Multi-media tab, Articles. Plans are underway for a fall field tour in September/October 2018.
The center’s Management Team met in early July to discuss research funding support. The team had three research proposals to consider for funding. Because the ISRC management team meeting occurred before the ISRC Industry Advisory Council (IAC) meeting on August 24, the Management Team tentatively approved financial support of the three proposals, each at different levels, as long as the Advisory Council also supported funding them. Then the center’s Industry Advisory Committee met on August 24, 2018, to discuss the three projects recommended for funding by the Management Team. One project received resounding support and there also was good support for funding the other two projects. The Management Team gave final approval for funding of the three projects through an email vote that concluded on September 14.
The Advanced Teaching and Research Building (ATRB) opened on the ISU campus in May 2018. The building houses a majority of the ISU scientists who work on soybean insects and pathogens. The ISRC has been hosting tours of the new building, showcasing the new research labs and greenhouse to representatives of agricultural companies including Valent, Trace Genomics and Winfield United. These meetings were initiated by Steve May to promote interest from industry in becoming formal partners with the center. Greg will be meeting with scientists from Monsanto, Solum and Corteva in September and October to discuss research and the possibility of having the companies become partners in the ISRC. Additionally, Steve May and Greg have arranged meetings with ag companies attending the Farm Progress Show, August 28-30.
The ISRC’s meeting coordination activities:
• Clarke McGrath, ISRC’s extension and on-farm research coordinator, hosts on-farm discussions between Scott Nelson, ISA, and Mike Witt, ISU Research Farms, to develop collaborations between the three groups.
• Jill Cornelis, ISRC’s program coordinator, helped organize the North Central 1197: Practical Management of Nematodes on Corn, Soybeans and Other Crops of Regional Importance multi-state group meeting held in Albuquerque, New Mexico this past July. Greg Tylka is a member of the group and was charged with organizing and leading this year’s meeting.
• The ISRC’s Industry Advisory Council meeting was held at the ISA Offices on August 24. Current ag industry partners Cornelius Seed, Monsanto, and Bayer CropScience had representatives participate along with two of the three farmer representatives; Chuck White and Steve Berger. Discussion topics included: 1) consideration for new research funding opportunities, 2) a new partnership program, and 3) an update from Drs. Danny Singh and Gwyn Beattie on their current funded research project, “Root and Microbiome Traits to Tailor the Next-Gen Soybean Cultivars.”
Other activities:
The ISRC is coordinating the 2018 USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) SCN survey of Iowa fields. Last year, 2017, the center worked with Greg Thessen and his team from the NASS to conduct a survey in which their field staff collected soil samples from randomly selected fields across Iowa, then sent them into Greg’s lab for processing. Greg and Jill are again working with NASS on this year’s soil collection. With assistance from the Brenton Center, Greg created a video explaining how to collect soil samples from a soybean field. The team from NASS will use the video during their training sessions to their field staff this fall.
Upcoming events
• The ISRC is finalizing plans to host a fall field tour for ISU researchers on November 27. The tour will include visits to Solum Labs (Ames, Iowa), the Iowa Soybean Association (Ankeny, Iowa), and the Entomology and Plant Science Bureau of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (Ankeny, Iowa).
• ISU’s College of Ag and Life Sciences and the ISRC are collaborating to host a reception for the ISA at the new Advanced Teaching and Research Building.
• A new office location in Agronomy Hall is in the future for the ISRC.

The Iowa Soybean Research Center at Iowa State University (ISU) works to foster research cooperation and synergies among Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), ISU, and private industry and to obtain industry funding for soybean research to leverage funding provided by ISA and ISU. The Center also works to coordinate all soybean-research-related activities at ISU and to organize educational events for our soybean checkoff partners and for ISU faculty, students and staff. Numerous activities, detailed above, were conducted to meet the center's goals and objectives in the past 12 months.

Benefit to Soybean Farmers

Economic Impact/Significance
There is no other center or institute at any other college and university in Iowa that focuses on the production and protection of soybeans. The Iowa Soybean Research Center is the sole university entity in the state focused on soybean research and education. And in the future, there likely will be only a few “hubs” of soybean research in the nation. Staff from the Iowa Soybean Research Center met with personnel from soybean centers located at the University of Missouri, Southern Illinois University, Ohio State University, and Purdue University in Columbia, Missouri, in April 2017. Also participating in the meeting were representatives from the United Soybean Board, the North Central Soybean Research Program, and qualified state soybean boards from Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois. It was learned during the presentations and discussions held at the meeting, the Iowa Soybean Research Center is the only soybean center involving farmers and industry personnel in developing the research agenda of the university in the state. The Iowa Soybean Research Center, in cooperation with the Iowa Soybean Association, positions ISU to be the regional and national leader of soybean research, capable of garnering large grants from the United Soybean Board, the North Central Soybean Research Program, and the national USDA AFRI and NIFA grants program.

Performance Metrics

# of research presentations and posters presented at the ISA Board research update event at ISU = 26
# of attendees on the 2 field trips for ISU personnel = 20
# of farms and businesses visited on the two ISU field trips = 6
# of research projects funded in 2018 = 3
# of ISA, ISU, and private industry dollars invested in research projects in 2018 = $226,131
# new research ideas to propose to industry for partnering with ISA and ISU in the center = 12

Project Years