Project Details:

Title:
The University of Minnesota Soybean Center

Parent Project: This is the first year of this project.
Checkoff Organization:Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council
Categories:Research coordination
Organization Project Code:10-15-48-22106
Project Year:2022
Lead Principal Investigator:Aaron Lorenz (University of Minnesota)
Co-Principal Investigators:
Daniel Kaiser (University of Minnesota)
Robert Koch (University of Minnesota)
Dean Malvick (University of Minnesota)
Seth Naeve (University of Minnesota)
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Contributing Organizations

Funding Institutions

Information and Results

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Project Summary

The University of Minnesota has an exceptional array of researchers working on a variety of aspects related to soybean improvement for Minnesota growers. While university departments are an efficient way to organize curricula and conduct business, they also can tend to inhibit collaboration between researchers from different yet complimentary disciplines. The formation of an academic center is one way to help form bridges between departments and bring researchers together. It is also a way to enhance communication and outreach around a single problem to be solved. We feel it is past time to organize UMN researchers working on a broad array of aspects related to soybean improvement and utilization into a University of Minnesota Soybean Center. Advantages to organizing UMN soybean researchers into a center include increased opportunity for collaboration across disciplines, enhanced communication of research findings directly relevant to soybeans, increased competitiveness for outside funding sources, and opportunity to attract new researchers to soybean. We have initiated this process in the last funding cycle, and are proposing herein to build upon and expand these activities. During the past year, we have successfully created a center, hired a coordinator, held Center events, and developed a website. During the next year, we want to continue these activities, in addition to establishing a mode of better promoting research activities to the public and hold an on-campus or on-station event for farmers and researchers to get together and assess research needs.

Project Objectives

GOAL : Elevate UMN soybean research through providing the opportunity for creation of synergy among all soybean researchers from different disciplines.
OBJECTIVE : Continue to build and maintain the recently established University of Soybean Research Center to connect soybean researchers across departments and disciplines.

GOAL : Enhance communication and coordination of UMN soybean research activities through a better and more sustained and coordinated presence on the web, social media, and press releases.
OBJECTIVE : Establish a social media presence and high-quality website, in addition to holding regular Soybean Research Center-sponsored seminars and lunches to facilitate informal interactions.

GOAL : Attract new researchers to soybean from a broad array of departments that do not traditionally work on agricultural commodities such as soybean.
OBJECTIVE : Build and maintain an interdepartmental Soybean Research Center, and use it as a platform to communicate with other researchers on what exciting opportunities are available in soybean research.

Project Deliverables

A functioning University of Minnesota Soybean Research Center that will enable better communication between soybean researchers and producers, ultimately enhancing the quality of soybean research conducted in Minnesota

Progress of Work

Updated September 7, 2022:
We initiated the process of developing the UMN Soybean Research Center in the last funding cycle starting in May of 2021. Below were our tasks for last year, followed by our progress on each task. The last progress report was prepared in May of 2022 where we highlighted the events of the 21-22 academic year. Because this report covers the summer period, there were fewer activities to report as soybean researchers were largely busy in the field managing there experiments, and students were not on campus as frequently. The main activity to report for the summer is a Center-sponsored tour of soybean agriculture held on June 30. We brought 20 students and postdoctoral researchers to three soybean-related sites in southern MN – A farm near Wells, MN (Darrin Johnson), a feed mill in Mapleton, MN (Protein Sources), and a specialty grains merchandiser in St. Peter (Grain Millers). Each stop was excellent and informative for the students. There were two goals of the tour: 1) Expose student and postdoctoral researchers on campus to wider soybean production in rural MN. Researchers on campus can be consumed by their narrow field of research and often don’t have the opportunity to see the larger soybean production infrastructure. 2) Provide an opportunity for students and postdocs working on soybeans from different departments to network with one another. We feel we accomplished both objectives as the participants of the tour were very pleased for the opportunity to attend.

We started working with a free lance writer to start writing up news stories about Center news and events. He already prepared a story on the tour, and we are working with him to identify other sources of stories for better publicity. Finally, we are in the process of enhancing our website and creating a flyer to start soliciting donations and investment from outside private companies. We hope to make progress on this this fall and winter.

View uploaded report Word file

Updated March 6, 2023:
Our main activity this past quarter was a "Lightening talk, research update, and networking session" held on Nov. 11, 2022. We invited in Ed Anderson (NCSRP), Lisa Weaver (USB), and David Kee (MSRPC) to talk briefly about checkoff priorities and advice on how to obtain checkoff funding for research, and propose impactful projects. After the presentations, we held a poster session and networking session. This was well attended (~40 individuals) by students, researchers, and faculty who work on soybean research across at least five UMN departments.

Updated March 6, 2023:
This past quarter was pretty quiet for the Center. We are currently brainstorming our next activities. One thing we did was create a brochure that we plan on using in the near future for solicitation of donations to support the Center. See attached brochure.

View uploaded report PDF file

Final Project Results

Updated June 2, 2023:
This past year the UMN Soybean Research Center continued to be a central point of contact for researchers on campus that work on soybeans. We held a few information and networking events. Last summer, we organized and held a tour of soybean agriculture-related stops in greater MN. This activity is described in detail in the quarter 1 report. We have good attendance -- 20 student and postdoctoral research associates -- who learned more about how soybeans are grown and where they go for processing (https://soybeanresearchcenter.umn.edu/students-gain-first-hand-soybean-industry-perspective). Secondly, we held a research networking event on campus in November. We invited in speakers from Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, United Soybean Board, and North Central Soybean Research Program. The speakers spoke to the audience of 40-50 people on opportunities and priorities in soybean research. There was also a poster session where UMN researchers shared their work with one another. In the spring, we held another networking event for soybean researchers attended by faculty, staff, and students. This was particularly important to staff and students since many of them work on soybean research but in different departments. Just having these events to help people get to know one another is extremely helpful for creating a soybean community on campus. We have developed our website and posted some stories there. We are in the process of recruiting a project/communications specialist with hopes of expanding communications and being more consistent. Finally, we created a promotional flyer and are in the process of soliciting funds from private donors.





Overall vision
Elevate public research on soybeans to enhance the efficiency, profitability, and sustainability of Minnesota soybean agriculture.

Goals
1. Provide the opportunity for creation of synergy among all soybean researchers across academic disciplines.
2. Enhance communication and coordination of UMN soybean research activities through a better and more sustained and coordinated presence on the web, social media, and press releases.
3. Attract new researchers to soybean from a broad array of departments that do not traditionally work on agricultural commodities such as soybean.


We continued the momentum of the center this past year and are poised to grow it in the future.

This past year the UMN Soybean Research Center continued to be a central point of contact for researchers on campus that work on soybeans. We held a few information and networking events. Last summer, we organized and held a tour of soybean agriculture-related stops in greater MN. This activity is described in detail in the quarter 1 report. We have good attendance -- 20 student and postdoctoral research associates -- who learned more about how soybeans are grown and where they go for processing (https://soybeanresearchcenter.umn.edu/students-gain-first-hand-soybean-industry-perspective). Secondly, we held a research networking event on campus in November. We invited in speakers from Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, United Soybean Board, and North Central Soybean Research Program. The speakers spoke to the audience of 40-50 people on opportunities and priorities in soybean research. There was also a poster session where UMN researchers shared their work with one another. In the spring, we held another networking event for soybean researchers attended by faculty, staff, and students. This was particularly important to staff and students since many of them work on soybean research but in different departments. Just having these events to help people get to know one another is extremely helpful for creating a soybean community on campus. We have developed our website and posted some stories there. We are in the process of recruiting a project/communications specialist with hopes of expanding communications and being more consistent. Finally, we created a promotional flyer and are in the process of soliciting funds from private donors.

Benefit to Soybean Farmers

The establishment of the University of Minnesota Soybean Center would create synergy among soybean researchers, attract leveraged funding, and facilitate better communication and coordination of all UMN soybean research. This will ultimately lead to more collaborative projects tackling larger and more complex problems of relevance to Minnesota soybean growers.

Performance Metrics

At the end of this funding cycle, we will have maintained a functioning UMN Soybean Research Center. Evidence of this success includes: 1) 25+ Center members, 2) An operating website where viewers can find information about UMN soybean researchers, 3) Held four special soybean seminars during the 2022-23 funding cycle, 4) Held at least five special Center lunches to provide informal interaction to build collegiality among researchers, 5) Hosted an event to bring researchers and producers together to discuss research findings and assess needs in future research projects, 6) External and internal advisory councils meet at least once per year to map out research needs and directions for the center.

Project Years