Research projects

Iowa Soybean Research Center Funds Four Iowa State Research Projects

AMES, Iowa – The Iowa Soybean Research Center recently awarded funding to four soybean research projects at Iowa State University, the largest level of funding invested in a single year by ISRC since its creation in 2014.

The centre’s industry advisory board met in September to review several research ideas and offer advice on how to invest available funds. Due to the high quality and innovative nature of the proposed research, and thanks to increased financial support provided by the Iowa Soybean Association, the ISRC awarded a total of $320,000. The funded projects are described below.

  • Liang Dongprofessor of electrical and computer engineering, and Steve Whitham, a professor of plant pathology and microbiology, will receive two-year funding to develop “low-cost, multimodal sensor arrays for the early detection of soybean diseases.” Researchers aim to develop a diagnostic device to quickly and cost-effectively test for pathogens in soybeans to better detect diseases at an early stage to reduce their spread and minimize damage. The technology will facilitate rapid monitoring of soybean crops during the growing season to help make management decisions that protect yield potential. Additionally, the technology will be used by researchers to better understand pathogen-induced stress in soybeans at different stages and under various conditions.
  • Prashant Jha, an associate professor of agronomy and weed extension specialist, will receive two-year funding for a project on “Improving the Implementation and Adoption of Non-Chemical Tactics for Integrated Weed Management in soybeans. Water hemp is one of the most problematic and economically detrimental weed species in soybeans, and its resistance to multiple herbicides has increased the need for management solutions. Jha received seed funding for this project from the USDA-NIFA Crop Protection and Pest Management Program in September 2021, in collaboration with collaborators in Arkansas and Kansas. The new ISRC support will help Jha expand the scope of the project through additional on-farm trials. His team will evaluate the effectiveness of two non-chemical weed control tactics (cover crops and weed seed control) in conjunction with herbicides while quantifying the economic benefits and risks of adopting a diversified program of integrated weed management.
  • Leonor Leandro, Professor of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, will receive two-year funding to continue and expand work originally funded by ISRC in 2020 titled “Time of disease onset as an early indicator of plant resistance. soy to SDS”. Leandro’s research team previously found that the timing of initial onset of SDS leaf symptoms during the growing season was strongly correlated with late season SDS severity and soybean yield. Leandro is investigating whether the time of onset of SDS symptoms could be used as a more reliable measure of SDS resistance in soybeans than the end-of-season disease ratings that are currently used. The research could benefit soybean breeding programs by improving screening methods used to identify SDS-resistant soybean lines.
  • Steve Whithamprofessor of plant pathology and microbiology, Lie TangProfessor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, and Danny Singprofessor of agronomy, will receive funding to study the “Effects of increased atmospheric CO2 and abiotic stress on soybean performance in the Enviratron. The research team will study the performance of soybeans with respect to disease development and abiotic stress tolerance under future climate scenarios. Specifically, they will study the effects of CO2 on soybean responses to pathogens and the effects of high ambient temperatures on soybean phenotype and gene expression. Experiments will be conducted in the Enviratron, a controlled-environment plant growth facility developed in the state of Iowa, to allow control of multiple environmental variables to study effects on plant performance. The Enviratron is unique in that data collection is automated through the use of a mobile robot that visits plants in growth chambers and collects data using an array of cameras and sensors. The long-term goal of this research is to generate scientific knowledge and inform future-oriented breeding approaches to develop soybean germplasm lines well suited to future agricultural production environments.

ISRC Director Greg Tylka said: “We are very grateful for the thoughtful discussion and advice from farmers and industry representatives on the centre’s Industry Advisory Board, as well as the increased financial support provided by the Iowa Soybean Association. We thank the Iowa State researchers who submitted ideas, many of which were research designs that were revised and improved based on feedback and advice from the Advisory Board. The breadth of research ideas considered for funding this year was remarkable and included collaborations of researchers combining talents and knowledge in different areas of expertise, making research multidisciplinary in a way we had never seen before.

“The membership of ISRC’s Industry Advisory Council continues to grow, as do the contributions of businesses and the engagement of insightful Council members. This year’s council discussion was enriched by several innovative and potentially high-impact research proposals from small interdisciplinary teams. Ultimately, farmers representing the levy and company representatives provided funding and referrals to support several important projects,” said Ed Anderson, senior director of research for the Iowa Soybean Association and president of the ISRC Advisory Board.

The ISRC is a formal collaboration between Iowa soybean growers, industry partners, the Iowa Soybean Association, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. Current industry partners include AMVAC, BASF, Bayer, Cornelius Seed, Corteva Agriscience, FMC, GDM, Innvictis/Simplot, Merschman Seeds, Syngenta and UPL. Each industry partner has a representative who sits on the center’s advisory board. The board also has three farmer representatives and meets annually to provide feedback on research they would like to see funded.

About the Iowa Soybean Research Center

the Iowa Soybean Research Center was created in 2014 by Iowa State University 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 the State of Iowa, the Iowa Soybean Association, and the private sector. Information about becoming an Industry Partner of the Iowa Soybean Research Center is available by contacting Center Director Greg Tylka, 515-294-0878 or [email protected]