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:GR-023053
Project Year:2021
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 continues to be a leader in the production of soybeans in the U.S. and is home to organizations and companies working to improve plant health, yields, and profitability of soybean production for farmers. Those organizations include Iowa State University (ISU), the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), numerous multi-national and Iowa-based seed, chemical and technology companies, and local farm cooperatives, grain elevators and others who provide crop inputs and services to farmers.
The Iowa Soybean Research Center (ISRC) was established in 2014 to bring together scientists and educators from public and private entities to discuss research and education needs, to foster sharing of research and education experiences, ideas and technologies, and to identify 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

• build strong public-private partnerships
• increase communication with soybean farmers and the agricultural industry to identify soybean research and education needs at ISU
• increase and leverage public and private funding of soybean research and education activities at ISU
• increase collaboration on and coordination of research and educational activities by ISU and ISA
• increase the training of undergraduate and graduate students and other personnel at ISU on soybean-related topics
• provide research-based information to benefit the Iowa soybean industry
• build communication with farmers and industry about soybean research and education activities at ISU and ISA
• more actively engage farmers and others in the soybean value chain so investments in leadership, research and education integration are realized and accelerated by all

Project Deliverables

• increased coordination of Iowa State University soybean research and education activities with 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 Iowa State University scientists and researchers in the ISA Research Center for Farming Innovation
• increased funding of Iowa State University soybean production research by leveraging soybean checkoff funds with financial support from the soybean industry

Progress of Work

Updated March 31, 2021:
On September 18, 2020, the Industry Advisory Council (IAC) received an update on the soybean gall midge and research being conducted by entomologists in the Midwest, welcomed two new industry partners, AMVAC Chemical Corp. and Merschman Seeds, heard about five soybean research ideas from ISU faculty, and the Council shared their reasons for support of each project. As a reminder, three research projects were selected for funding by the center’s Management Team based on feedback and recommendations from the Council:

Thomas Baum "Mechanisms of defense suppression by soybean cyst nematode effectors" @$58,000 per year for 2 years = Total $116,000

Leonor Leandro "Time of disease onset as an early indicator of soybean resistance to SDS" @$20,000 per year for 2 years = Total $40,000

Lie Tang "In-field soybean seed pod analysis on harvest stocks using 3D imaging and machine learning" @$50,000 per year for 2 years = Total $100,000

The ISRC exceeded $1 million of support for soybean research with the recent three projects selected. This would not have been possible without the financial support of our partners, the Iowa Soybean Association, AMVAC, BASF, Bayer, Cornelius Seed, Corteva Agriscience, FMC, GDM, Merschman Seeds and Syngenta. We thank all of our industry partners for helping us reach this milestone.

Felix Fritschi, interim director of the Missouri Soybean Center at the University of Missouri, and Greg Luce with the Missouri Soybean Association reached out to the ISRC for a meeting discussion that took place via ZOOM in mid-December. Participants included the Missouri Soybean Center’s steering committee members, Felix Fritschi, Greg Luce, and the ISRC staff of Greg Tylka, Jill Cornelis, and Kara Berg. After preliminary introductions and explanations of each center’s focus, the meeting turned to possible collaborations between the two centers. An idea the group discussed is a one-day Field Tour in which the ISRC will host a group of graduate students, postdocs, research staff, and/or faculty from the University of Missouri for a visit to select agri-businesses in Iowa. Early discussions for a future Field Tour are underway.

Since 2017, the ISRC has hosted Field Tour events inviting ISU research scientists and graduate students on one- and two-day visits of various Iowa agri-businesses. The ISRC placed a hold on the Field Tour events in 2020 because of the university’s travel restrictions related to COVID-19. Thinking “outside the box”, the ISRC staff is working on a Virtual Field Tour option. We currently are organizing with Corteva Agriscience in Johnston, Iowa, a series of virtual tours at the company. The tour will consist of 5 or 6 sessions and include include live-streamed video, recorded video, and panel of Corteva scientists to answer questions from the tour participants. For those unable to join into the live webinar, the video will be recorded and viewable later from the ISRC’s website with permissions from Corteva Agriscience.

The Soybean Centers Coordination Group (SCCG) made up of directors and staff from soybean centers and their state QSSB’s in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, and Missouri met during a ZOOM call on February 10. This group shares soybean project ideas with the intent of forming collaborative teams to develop related research projects. Last year, the group submitted two pre-proposals to the United Soybean Board (USB) led by Katy Rainey from Purdue University on behalf of the SCCG. The USB invited both projects to full proposals. One project focused on plant-based protein was awarded funding. Due to the pandemic, Katy will be requesting a time extension on this project. She also resubmitted the pre-proposal that was not funded by the USB last year, related to remote sensing technologies for targeted soybean management. Additionally, Ed Anderson submitted a pre-proposal to the USB for funding for a multi-state project involving researchers affiliated with the soybean centers. During the February 10 meeting, the group talked about several subject areas looking for novel research topics and sharing names of researchers who could lead these projects, should the USB request a full proposal. Full proposal invitations from the USB will come out in March. The USB will announce awarded projects in late August.

Jill Cornelis, ISRC’s program coordinator, and Leonor Leandro, ISU faculty member of ISU’s Plant Pathology and Microbiology department, organized and arranged a ZOOM meeting February 12, 2021 that involved plant pathology and microbiology graduate students, research staff, and faculty from ISU, North Dakota State University, and the University of Minnesota all working on Fusarium research. Leonor periodically hosts these meetings with the purpose of sharing current Fusarium research within this scientific community. The meetings also provide opportunities for graduate students and postdocs to develop their presentation and communication skills, as well as, fostering collaborations among colleagues to work together on possible future projects. This year’s meeting included six speakers talking about their Fusarium research in soybean:

1. Guiping Hu, “A Gated Recurrent Units (GRU)-based Model for Soybean SDS with Satellite Imagery”
2. Madan Bhattacharyya, “Towards understanding the genetic mechanisms used by overexpressed GmDR1 gene in generating broad spectrum disease pest resistance in transgenic soybean”
3. Gabriela Morel Gadea, “Towards identifying sources of resistance to Fusarium Root Rot”
4. Gary Munkvold, “Effect of pH and other soil conditions on Fusarium seedling disease in soybean”
5. Hui Yan (NDSU), “Effect of temperature and cultivar on root rot of soybean caused by Fusarium solani species complex 5”
6. Jim Kurle (UMN), “Light effects on phenotyping results”

It was late in 2019 when the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) reorganized their research team into the current Research Center for Farming Innovation (RCFI), led by Ed Anderson. It was Ed who reached out for the ISRC’s help in setting up an initial meeting with leaders from the RCFI, the ISU Iowa Nutrient Research Center, Agronomy, the ISRC and more recently, C-CHANGE with Lisa Schulte-Moore to discuss strategic and tactical partnerships between ISA and ISU for innovation and integration. The Tactical and Strategic Initiative group has met periodically over the past year talking about broad and varied topics. The group recently decided it was time to move onto the next phase and consider solid research ideas and funding avenues. Six project ideas were identified during their February 2021 meeting. Ed Anderson and Roger Wolf from the RCFI put together a one-page concept paper they presented to the ISA Board in late February on how checkoff funding could be utilized for a strategic initiative with the intent of the funds being leveraged with financial support from federal funding agencies as well as from industry. The next steps include selection of a final topic and identifying the right people with time and interest to do the research, and find potential funding sponsors for leveraging funds.

Research Project Updates:
Drs. Prashant Jha, associate professor and extension weed scientist at ISU and Steve Whitham, professor of molecular plant pathology in the department of plant pathology and microbiology at ISU, each received two years of funding support from the ISRC for their research projects in 2019. Drs. Prashant and Whitham provided recent progress report of their projects scheduled to end September 30, 2021. Please find their report for your review attached in the same email as this update.

The ISRC funded the ISO-FAST (Interactive Summaries of On-Farm Strip Trials Tool) co-lead by Fernando Miguez, associate professor of agronomy at ISU and Peter Kyveryga, senior research scientist-analytics at the Iowa Soybean Association in 2018. The research team received a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) for a new project titled, “FACT: Web-Based Dynamic Data-Analytics Framework for On-Farm Research Networks,” building on the original ISO-FAST project. You can learn more in the ISRC’s January 2021 newsletter found on our website,

The ISRC staff received training in March on the National Soybean Research Database,, about how to post updates of our current research projects. The database gives the center the opportunity of sharing its progress reports to farmers and the public.

The center is looking ahead with the release of two important funding solicitations. The 2021 Request for Proposals from the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) and the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP) are anticipated around the third week of March. The center offers preparation assistance to ISU researchers interested in submitting proposals to these organizations.

Kara Berg, ISRC’s communications specialist, is adding final changes on the April 2021 newsletter. Look for the newsletter in your email around mid-April or go to the ISRC’s website to view this newsletter and others,

The center will again sponsor the Iowa Youth Crop Scouting Competition in July 2021. The annual competition invites middle and high school students (grades 7-12) from Iowa to compete and showcase their crop scouting abilities in corn and soybean. Typically, the event is hosted at ISU’s Field Extension Education Lab (FEEL) in Boone, Iowa. In 2020, the competition was held remotely due to the pandemic. The set up for this year’s competition is yet to be determined.

SoyFest 2021. SoyFest is the ISRC’s campus event they’ve been planning to help educate undergraduate students about soybeans, their various uses, and their importance to the economy of the state and country. The staff is working with campus organizers about how the ISRC can host a fun, educational event safely during the pandemic. The date for SoyFest is Wednesday, August 25, 2021.

Updated October 18, 2021:
The center received a 1-year extension of FY2020 funds and therefore progress and activities that occurred in FY2021 were described in the center's FY2020 progress report in the database. However, those same center activities are reported here because they occurred in FY2021.

The center received a 1-year extension on the use of these FY2020 funds due to the COVID pandemic and its effects on hiring and other aspects of conducting research at ISU. Therefore, below is a listing of the Iowa Soybean Research Center (ISRC) activities from April through September 2021.

The ISRC now has 11 industry partners. Our newest partners include UPL and Innvictis/Simplot. UPL NA, Inc. produces agricultural chemicals specializing in herbicides, insecticides, bactericides, fungicides, fumigants, and harvest aid, and pest management services. Innvictis/Simplot is a manufacturer and retailer of seed treatments and other agricultural products. We welcome both UPL and Innvictis/Simplot to the center’s partnership team.

A staff retreat for the ISRC was held at Reiman Garden’s Speer Room on June 24. Participating in the retreat were Greg Tylka, Jill Cornelis, Kara Berg, Steve May and Ed Anderson. At the meeting, attendees:
• Discussed other partnership considerations outside our realm of soybean production – exploring opportunities to connect with different areas of the industry. Ex. Cargill
• Reviewed of the center’s website – discussed changes made on the current site to enhance the way users search for information.
• Outlined the Industry Advisory Council meeting agenda and reviewed the research summaries submitted by ISU soybean researchers for funding consideration by the council – decided on presenters, etc.
• Reviewed ISRC Operating Guidelines including policies for ISRC-supported research – it was the first time the center’s operating guidelines have been reviewed since its inception in 2014.

The NC-1197: Practical Management of Nematodes on Corn, Soybeans and Other Crops of Regional Importance group met this year at Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa on July 22-23. The meeting was hosted by the Iowa Soybean Research Center. The multi-state group is made up of university members from Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kentucky, Kansas, North Dakota, Minnesota, Ohio, South Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, Michigan, Indiana, and Alabama, plus an administrative advisor and two USDA-NIFA representatives. It was a hybrid meeting with 11 representatives joining in-person and 4 participating via a ZOOM connection. Kaitlyn Bissonnette, University of Missouri, organized the meeting’s agenda that included a welcome from Ed Anderson, representing NCSRP, updates from each of the USDA-NIFA representatives, the NC-1197 administrative advisor, and state reports from each state representative.

Mark Licht, assistant professor of agronomy and extension cropping systems specialist at ISU, reached out to the ISRC for assistance in organizing and hosting an Ag Media Meet & Greet on August 6 at the ISU Field Education Extension Laboratory (FEEL) in Boone, Iowa. This was an opportunity for agriculture reporters to meet and make connections with ISU crop extension specialists when expert information is needed. Several of the reporters conducted on-the-spot interviews at FEEL after the event concluded.

After much anticipation, the ISRC’s inaugural SoyFest took place on ISU’s campus on August 25, 2021. The focus of SoyFest is to educate ISU undergraduate students about the importance of soybean to Iowa and the many different uses of soybean. The event had a festival feel with tents, games, soy-related food samples, robotic demonstrations, a photo booth, potted soybean plants, and the like. The day was hot, but students lined up to participate in the fun. Special appearances included President Wintersteen, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Robison, ISA’s District 5 Farmer Board member Morey Hill, and Cy.

The ISRC hosted a Meals from the Heartland (MFTH) packaging event as a kickoff activity on the eve of SoyFest. Soy protein is a “lifesaving” component in each meal, according to MFTH coordinator, Joel O’Dell. MFTH uses volunteers to help package nutritious meals for those in need both locally and internationally. Our goal of packaging 20,000 healthy meals in two hours with 42 ISU faculty, staff, and student volunteers would provide food security for children in Iowa returning to school. Volunteers had a good time competing with each other to package as many meals as possible in the two hours. The group worked so hard, they exceeded the goal and packaged over 30,000 meals with 10,000 of the meals being shipped to help people in Haiti following a devastating earthquake earlier in the month. We are thankful to our volunteers and grateful to Cargill and Syngenta for sponsoring the cost of the meal packaging ingredients.

The ISRC hosted their annual Industry Advisory Council (IAC) meeting in Ames, Iowa on September 3. As was the case in 2020, this year’s meeting was a hybrid of council members attending the meeting in person and others connecting through ZOOM. The agenda included speakers presenting on existing and new proposed research ideas in the morning and discussions about the IAC's research needs and review of research ideas submitted by ISU soybean researchers in the afternoon. The IAC recommended support of the following research projects for FY22:
1. Liang Dong and Steve Whitham, "Low-cost multimodal sensor arrays for early-detection of soybean diseases."
2. Prashant Jha, "Enhancing implementation and adoption of non-chemical tactics for IWM in soybean."
3. Leonor Leandro, "Time of disease onset as an early indicator of soybean resistance to SDS."
4. Steve Whitham, Lie Tang, and Danny Singh, "Effects of increased atmosheric CO2 and abiotic stress on soybean performance in the Enviratron."

On September 20, the center’s Management Team reviewed the research proposals and the IAC members’ comments and recommendations made at the September 3 IAC meeting. A final decision was made to invest the available funds to support the research as suggested by the IAC.

The Iowa Soy Convening will be held at Iowa State University on October 27 hosted by the ISRC. The meeting is part of a planning project for increasing demand for soybean in plant-based protein led by Katy Rainey from Purdue University. The center will identify stakeholders to participate in the Iowa Convening who will provide input about how to build market opportunities for soy as the preferred plant protein source.

Final Project Results

Benefit to Soybean Farmers

The Iowa State University Iowa Soybean Research Center will involve and help coordinate research, teaching, and extension faculty and staff who work in the areas of soybean biology, breeding, economics, precision agriculture, production, and pest management at ISU and the Iowa Soybean Association.

Performance Metrics

Project Years