The North Central Soybean Research Program update

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off

The North Central Soybean Research Program was formed in 1992, shortly after the soybean check-off went national and became a mandatory check-off. It was understood that soybean production challenges and research does not stop at state boundaries, and there was a great opportunity to pool resources and pool expertise.

Ed Anderson has experience in multiple arenas of the soybean industry. For the past 10 years, he has served as Sr. Director of Research at the Iowa Soybean Association and also worked as the Executive Director of the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP). Prior to his work in the not-for-profit world, Anderson was a part of the university system, and previous to that worked for a large private company.

“There have been a number of successes the program has achieved for the stakeholders who farm in the 13 states that make up the NCSRP. The program is directed by a board of 13 farmer members, (one from each state) and identifies and understands the highest priority and greatest opportunity production needs, such as breeding for genetic gain and higher yields, better soybean quality, disease resistance and management of diseases, insect pests and weeds,” Anderson said. “Research looking at herbicide resistant weeds has become more of a focus as well as researching abiotic stresses such as salinity issues. Parts of the U.S. have flooding issues, and some areas have drought issues.  Research to find genes that help increase the genetic potential and resist the stress from flooding and drought are ongoing. NCSRP helps to fund agronomic research to improve cropping systems and cultural practices to help farmers be as productive and profitable as they can be while maintaining a high degree of sustainability.”

“The NCSRP focuses more on research programs and program investments rather than individual projects,” said Anderson. “Each time the NCSRP members get together, time is allotted to share about the ongoing research being conducted by the programs in each state. They also allow time for one program to be featured.”

At the 2023 Commodity Classic, Dr. Kelley Tilmon, Professor of Entomology at The Ohio State University, shared about her program.

“Dr. Tilmon is leading a very large program with 24 program investigators from other universities made up of entomologists looking at integrated pest management for all the existing and new and emerging insect pests that threaten their crops,” Anderson said

The agriculture industry faces numerous challenges in the coming years, and Anderson feels that the NCSRP is up to the task of finding solutions.

“One of the challenges will be figuring out how to deal with extreme weather, such as dealing with periods of flooding and periods of extreme drought,” Anderson said. “There are untapped genetics available that our contracted researchers are starting to explore, looking for genes that help soybeans become more resilient to stresses from flooding and drought.”

 Integrated weed management is also an opportunity in the future.

“We want to enable farmers through good research and well communicated research. We want to identify the opportunities for new herbicides and for existing herbicides used in different ways or different combinations that can be managed differently,” Anderson said. “That includes cultural practices and mechanical control weed control. There is a project currently looking at ‘The Weed Zapper’ as part of an integrated weed management program.”

The NCSRP also researches new uses, primarily around soybean oil and soybean meal. “We are always trying to stay connected to both public and private researchers, and keep them connected to one another to see how we can create more markets and better uses for soybean oil and soybean meal to increase profitability back to the farmer.”

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