The Iowa Soybean Research Center at Iowa State University recently achieved two significant milestones that will help the newly established center move forward into full operation. The center was established in 2014 by ISU in partnership with the Iowa Soybean Association. The center was founded to increase soybean production and profitability for Iowa farmers through coordinated research efforts involving ISU, ISA and the private sector. The center will improve the competitiveness of the state's soybean farmers, industry officials say.
The center's first Industry Advisory Council meeting was held on Sept. 10 at Iowa Soybean Association headquarters in Ankeny. The advisory council includes ISA and ISU representatives, farmers and industry members. The other milestone was the announcement Sept. 8 that Bayer CropScience has become an industry partner of the Iowa Soybean Research Center at ISU. Bayer has pledged its financial support.
"The primary purpose of the center is to bring farmers, industry and university research partners together to determine what soybean research has been done, and to consider new opportunities and prioritize and fund new projects," said Ed Anderson, ISA senior director of supply and production systems. "Right out of the gate, the center begins to fulfill that primary objective by convening its industry advisory council."
Goal is to increase soybean production and profitability for farmers
The initial 10 industry advisory council members include: Ed Anderson, chairman; Steve Berger, a farmer from Wellman; A.J. Blair, a farmer from Dayton; Chuck White, a farmer from Spencer; Kevin Cavanaugh, director of research for Beck's Hybrids; Will Cornelius, soybean lead for Cornelius Seed; Warren Kruger, northern soy regional lead for Monsanto Company; Kermit Price, soybean technical integration manager for Bayer CropScience; Myron Stine, vice president of sales and marketing for Stine Seed Company; and Ryan Wolf, agronomy services manager for Winfield.
The center is housed in Agronomy Hall on the ISU campus at Ames. It will facilitate collaboration between public and private entities regarding soybean-related research and education needs. The goal is to increase soybean production and profitability for Iowa farmers.
"Companies pump millions of dollars each year into soybean research, but they can't do it all. Universities will always play a critical role at the front end and later stages of research," Anderson said. Expertise in genetics, modeling, statistics and biosystems engineering are just a few things ISU offers. The Iowa Soybean Association's On-Farm Network will provide large-scale field trial opportunities.
Partnership milestone, Bayer is the center's first industry partner
One of the world's leading agribusinesses in the areas of seed, crop protection and non-agricultural pest control, Bayer CropScience recently pledged financial support for the center and became its first official industry partner.
Center director Greg Tylka, professor of plant pathology and microbiology at ISU, said securing the first of hopefully many official industry partners was crucial. "We're grateful to the company for pledging its financial support," Tylka said. "This kind of partnership will allow us to help Iowa farmers grow the highest quality soybeans to meet the demands of a growing global market."
More industry partners are being sought by the center
"Bayer is committed to soybeans, and our support is reflective of the confidence we have in this crop for the future," said Kermit Price, Bayer CropScience's soybean technical integration manager. "We are excited about the opportunities for innovation in productivity and profitability for soybean growers the Iowa Soybean Research Center can deliver, and we are proud to be a partner in this effort."
Since the center was established last year by the Iowa Board of Regents, Tylka and Anderson have been meeting with dozens of large and small agribusinesses to discuss partnership opportunities. "We are appreciative of industry partners who have made large and modest initial investments and other business leaders who have expressed interest," Anderson said. "We want companies to engage in the dialogue and these public/private partnerships. That will produce innovative, meaningful research."
Industry advisory council to provide input on research priorities
Price represents Bayer CropScience on the center's advisory council, which provides input on research priorities. "We welcome Bayer CropScience's commitment as an industry partner and see it as an important step in how the center facilitates public-private collaborations to better meet the research and production information needs of Iowa soybean farmers," said Anderson.
The Iowa Soybean Research Center is looking for additional partners. More information on becoming an industry partner of the center is available by contacting center director Greg Tylka at 515-294-0878 or [email protected].
Progress has been made during the center's first year
Besides the discussions on potential industry partnerships, the bulk of the centers' first year was devoted to hiring staff, getting the management team set and establishing operational guidelines and strategies.
The center's management team is led by Wendy Wintersteen, dean of ISU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Others include Anderson, Tylka, Thomas Baum, chair of the ISU plant pathology & microbiology department; Sue Blodgett, chair of the ISU entomology and natural resource ecology department and Kendall Lamkey, chair of the ISU agronomy department.
Clarke McGrath, an ISU Extension field agronomist based at Harlan in western Iowa, is the center's on-farm research and Extension coordinator. Kristin Doerder is the center's program coordinator. Tristan Mueller, ISA's On-Farm Network operations manager for agronomic research, is ISA's liaison to the center for on-farm research.