Renewable Diesel: Soy Positioned to Grow as Low-Carbon Fuel Solution

Photo: United Soybean Board

By Bethany Baratta

Renewable diesel differs from biodiesel in that it can be produced from a variety of non-fat feedstocks (like grasses, wood, ethanol, and even garbage) – in addition to traditional feedstocks like soybean oil. Additionally, renewable diesel can have better handling characteristics, including a longer shelf life and lower freeze point. Although there are key differences, renewable diesel, like biodiesel, can still deliver a 40-86% reduction in emissions compared to petroleum diesel according to Argonne National Lab1.

Renewable diesel is created through hydrotreating, a process that uses hydrogen to remove oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur from crude oils. The high-heat, high-pressure process produces a fuel with chemical properties similar to conventional diesel, according to Clean Fuels Alliance America, formerly the National Biodiesel Board.

“Renewable diesel is a top choice in markets with aggressive climate targets,” Matt Herman, Senior Director of Renewable Products Marketing for the Iowa Soybean Association, told participants at a Soybean Research Forum and Think Tank in July 2022. 

In 2021, U.S. renewable diesel production equaled about 845 million gallons. Consumption totaled about 1.3 billion gallons, which included about 468 million gallons of imports, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration2.

California uses the most U.S. renewable diesel products and imports, accounting for over 93% of national demand. In 2021, the state consumed a combined 1.229 billion gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel, replacing a full one-third of their petroleum diesel with renewables2. The state has set a target of carbon neutrality by 2045. Utilizing biodiesel and renewable diesel has helped California sprint toward its carbon reduction targets, while novel technologies like electric vehicles continue to gain steam.

Think Tank

Matt Herman talks about renewable diesel to the group assembled for the 2022 Soy Think Tank, held in Indianapolis. Photo: Carol Brown

Participants at the Think Tank, ranging from researchers to farmers and sustainability experts to food company executives, were asked to identify the challenges and opportunities associated with renewable diesel.

They pinpointed six challenges the soybean industry can work through to find greater success in the renewable diesel space:

  • Meeting demand: Can the soybean industry produce enough soybeans to meet all demand from food, feed and fuel customers?
  • Genetic editing for end uses: Will farmers experience a yield decrease if soybeans are modified in a way that creates beneficial properties for end users — i.e., higher oil content or different fatty acid profiles?
  • Infrastructure: What investments are needed to support the increase in renewable diesel capacity in the U.S.?
  • Carbon intensity scores: What can be done in the lab and in the field to reduce the carbon intensity of soybeans and their crop rotations?
  • Process byproducts: What can we do with the increased amount of soybean meal produced domestically as a result of increased oil production?
  • Market stability: What does the market look like for renewable diesel? What does it mean for soybean farmers? The soybean meal market?


Renewable diesel presents many opportunities for participants all along the value chain to extract greater value from soybeans, contributors to the Think Tank said.

These include:

  • Soy profile: This can be an opportunity for soybean breeders to alter the bean for fuel market optimization.
  • Marketing alongside electric vehicles: Renewable diesel has a place alongside electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Sustainability and carbon intensity: Soy is a sustainable, renewable feedstock. Increasing sustainability efforts in growing soybeans will make products like biofuels and soybean meal more sustainable, too.
  • Increase demand: There are several untapped markets for renewable diesel in the fuel industry (marine, rail, bioheat). This demand can be influenced by policy, corporate sustainability goals, and partnerships with environmental groups.
  • Processing: As the process to produce renewable diesel becomes more widely available, costs of processing will decrease, and new products like sustainable aviation fuel may become more commonplace. 
  • Adding value and identity preservation: Can soybeans with a higher oil content be incentivized? Is there an opportunity for regional incentives? Can we maintain identity preservation?

Unconventional Partnerships

Herman is bringing together various stakeholders to guide the Iowa Soybean Association’s efforts in exploring opportunities for renewable products. 

“We’re now starting to see these legacy petroleum companies lean into renewable diesel because this is a product they can make in their existing refineries,” Herman says.

One such conversation happened earlier this year with Valero, the world’s largest independent refinery. The company is also the second largest renewable diesel producer in the world and a large producer of corn ethanol.

The conversations and plant visit with a group previously considered a competitor have morphed into finding common goals in how to increase production of renewable diesel and thereby drive demand for soybean oil.

“Valero [and other petroleum companies] are under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible for every gallon of fuel they produce,” Herman says. “There is a really strong interest in both parties in reducing the carbon footprint of agriculture feedstocks used to make these fuels.”

Renewable diesel capacity growth driven by petroleum companies: 

  • Currently, the United States produces ~24.25 MMT of soybean oil per year (including the oil exported as part of whole beans). In 2021, 20% or ~4.85 MMT of oil was consumed for biofuel. If all of the announced renewable diesel plants were built and fed with soybean oil, demand would increase by 342% or 16.6 MMT a year3
  • It takes roughly 8 pounds of soybean oil (or other fat) to produce a finished gallon of renewable diesel.

Bethany Baratta is editor of the Iowa Soybean Review. Contact her at

1Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Production in the United States:


Published: Nov 28, 2022 at

Seeking Soy Solutions: Farmers Dissect Soybean Challenges, Opportunities Q&A

By Bethany Baratta

At the Soybean Research Forum and Think Tank held in Indianapolis in July, four farmers participated in a panel discussion about the challenges and opportunities in the soybean industry. Jeff Nalley, a 39-year radio and farm broadcasting veteran, moderated the panel.

Participants included:

Heather Beaner: Retired Air Force attorney and farmer from Mellette, South Dakota. After active duty, Beaner moved back home and took over the farm from her father. She farms with her husband and son and serves on the North Central Soybean Research Program board and as a Regional Council Representative for Land O’ Lakes. Beaner also serves on the board of directors for her local ag co-op, Agtegra, and is a director on the South Dakota Soybean Checkoff board.

Steve Reinhard: Farms 1,700 acres of soybeans, corn, wheat/barley and hay in Crawford County, Ohio. He serves as the treasurer on the United Soybean Board executive committee and previously as Ohio Soybean Council chairman.

Tom Griffiths: First-generation livestock and grain farmer from Indiana. He is a former Indiana Soybean Alliance chairman and was a representative to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, and U.S. Soybean Export Council. He has worked on trade promotions and exports for soybean and meat products in 22 countries. He now serves as a USB director. 

Gregg Fujan: A soybean and corn farmer near Weston, Nebraska. Fujan is a former USB director and former chairman of the Nebraska Soybean Board. He also led the North Central Soybean Research Program as president.

Editor’s note: The panelists’ responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Nalley: Are there trends you think the industry should pay attention to from the producer’s perspective?

Reinhard: We have a lot of information, but it is in several formats. If we can find programs that marry the technologies faster, we can get a faster turnaround and make decisions quicker.

Fujan: Identifying what genes control what part of the plant and the resistance factors to plan for has always excited me throughout my time working with research.

Beaner: Farmers must do a lot more in a narrower window of time. For three years, I’ve had three days to put a crop in. There’s a limited window to spray beans. I think it’s essential for researchers to know that if you’re asking us to apply a new product or make an extra pass, we often will not have the time. Farmers are doing so much more, so quickly in smaller windows, that I think it’s important for researchers to understand that we’re willing to pay someone else to do that for us because of these limited windows. 

Griffiths: I’m not a plant breeder, but we spend a lot of time on boards and in research programs on drought-tolerant soybeans. I’m not necessarily concerned with drought-tolerant soybeans because, in northeast Indiana, soybeans never make it to the drought stage here. Instead, soybeans die in the cold, wet soil. This problem must be addressed. 

Nalley: Are there areas in this industry where you’re encouraged?

Griffiths: Last year, the USB challenged us as directors to bring proposals for funding consideration instead of researchers bringing proposals to us. They asked us, as farmer-directors, what we wanted to fund. 

Reinhard: From the soil health standpoint, we have spent a lot of money on microbiology because we feel it’s important. As we see high input prices this year, I’m interested in seeing how some of the bio-stimulants are working so we can potentially use less fertilizer. The bio market is kind of a wild west — there are a lot of products, but perhaps not a lot of research.

Fujan: The successes in soybean oil speak for themselves. It went from being an albatross on the soy complex’s neck to taking the lead in biofuels, sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel. 

Beaner: When farmer board members are given the task of spending money on behalf of other farmers, it’s a big responsibility. So, when researchers present their proposals, we ask, ‘How will this research project benefit most farmers in my region?’ If a project covers a small area and might not achieve the biggest bang for the buck, it’s less likely to be funded in our boardroom. NCSRP is a 13-state conglomerate. When we’re looking at research proposals, there must be a broad application for the areas we represent. And it must have an impact. If a proposal doesn’t have a way to improve my soybean farmers’ lives, it’s a harder sell going back to the farm gate.

Nalley: What’s one opportunity that would add the most value to your farm? 

Griffiths: More bushels. 

Fujan: Traits. Some identity-preserved opportunities will deliver more profit to farmers. In my area, high oleic has not taken off as strongly as in some areas, but I think traits could play a role in profitability moving forward.

Beaner: There are several components to adding opportunities and value. Making sure the information we discussed at this forum gets back to farmers, our local seed salespeople and service producers back home is a start. Also, we can make a bean that would be ideal for fish food, for example, but from my point of view, we only have one bean we grow: a yellow, No. 2 bean. There isn’t a place for me to develop niche beans. We don’t grow high oleic soybeans, and there’s only one place in North Dakota you can sell non-GMO beans, and it’s an hour and a half to get there. Then, you have to store the niche beans in separate facilities. It’s a logistical infrastructure nightmare to consider anything other than the standard genetically modified seed where I’m located. I’m fascinated by the opportunities and research needs relating to growing and selling niche soybeans, but the infrastructure isn’t there yet in my region.

Steve: In Ohio, about 10% of soybeans are non-GMO, which carry about a $2 per bushel premium. We spend a lot of money on our national and state boards trying to communicate premium opportunities like this to the rest of our farmers, but we’re not always reaching farmers. This is an opportunity. 

Nalley: Finish these sentences: I wish we could develop ___? I wish we could do ___?

Fujan: Soybeans that are cold tolerant and grow in no-till, high-residue conditions. 

Beaner: I need beans that grow faster and aren’t dependent on sun. I need a resilient, flexible bean that will take anything so that spray composition doesn’t need to be adjusted for every field based on what my neighbors or I have planted. I need a bean that will take anything.

Nalley: If we’re moving through a new paradigm where oil is more valuable than the meal, and if we’re crushing for the oil and then the meal, how does the paradigm shift affect how we should look at the industry? 

Beaner: From a research and board perspective, our focus was on the meal. Do you ship it? Where does it go? How is it used? We have crush plants making crude oil, and then shipping it to be refined. Some meal that is shipped out is used for feed. For end users, what do you need me as a farmer to do to be successful? Do you need me to plant a different kind of bean? Plant in a different kind of way? Sell it differently? This meal versus oil argument will often come down to the dollar. 

Fujan: I think about the days back when trans fat was a big issue and consumption of soybean oil dropped off overnight. Fortunately, we had a balanced portfolio working with oil at that time, and biodiesel could absorb excess oil. I think it’s essential to have diversity. It’s important to work in both areas (soybean meal and soy oil) because you never know what will be coming down the road in the next week or next year.

Griffiths: What terrifies me is that we’re only one hurricane away from a refinery closing on the Gulf of Mexico. If input costs are high, we will put more acres into soybeans. But then that could mean more weed and disease pressure, and farmers will take that gamble. If input prices don’t come down, we’ll plant more soybeans and have more oil and meal.

Reinhard: We don’t want to produce more oil or meal to affect either side. We need to continue to find uses for the meal and the oil. 

Bethany Baratta is editor of the Iowa Soybean Review. Contact her at

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Collaboration for Growth: Think Tank Brings Together All Facets of Soybean Industry

Originally Published: Oct 24, 2022 at

Collaborating for Growth: Think Tank Brings Together all Facets of Soybean Industry

Soybean farmers know that one constant in agriculture is change. Change in the customers’ needs and what’s needed on the farm to drive production and profitability is guaranteed. 

In 2021, staff from various state soybean organizations started thinking together about how to make the most out of these changes. 

Katherine Drake Stowe, then the research coordinator for the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association, teamed up with Ed Anderson, senior director of research for the Iowa Soybean Association’s Research Center for Farming Innovation, and other state soybean research staff. 

“We wanted to start thinking about how we in the soybean research community can help farmers thrive in the face of these new challenges and opportunities,” says Stowe. 

Thus, the Soybean Research Forum and Think Tank was born. Participants, including researchers, farmers, and industry partners, considered how the research community could drive the industry forward and help soybean growers overcome these challenges. 

Those in attendance identified “grand challenges” that farmers face, including technology and data; climate, carbon, and ecosystems marketplaces; and uses for soybean oil. Researchers also expressed a desire to be more connected to the entire value chain.

Katherine Drake Stowe leads the U.S. Soybean Research Collaborative (USSRC) at the second annual Soybean Research Forum and Think Tank, held this summer in Indianapolis. Researchers, farmers and industry partners met to discuss soybean research direction and its impact on the industry. Photos: Carol Brown

“They wanted to better understand how what they’re doing in the field impacts farmers’ access to markets,” Stowe says. 

Finally, researchers asserted that greater collaboration across entities and disciplines would benefit soybean farmers.  

“They said we needed a better understanding of who was doing what, and where there were gaps and opportunities to leverage current resources to fill those holes,” Stowe says. 

Think Tank in Action

Not wanting to let the ideas generated during the meeting sit on a shelf, the researchers determined that establishing a specific project could help these ideas take flight.  

That’s where the U.S. Soybean Research Collaborative came into play. 

Led by Stowe, the U.S. Soybean Research Collaborative (USSRC) works to bring more collaboration and coordination to soybean checkoff research.  

“Our mission is to complement and extend the efforts of our existing organizations for more impactful discovery and development of soybeans,” she says. 

Soybean leaders in Iowa and Illinois provided initial funding to kickstart the USSRC. Four additional state checkoff partners—Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota and North Carolina—are providing funding for FY23, and more are in the process of reviewing and acting on investment proposals. 

Stowe says the USSRC fosters a broad view across industry and the value chain for soybean research opportunities that move beyond traditional production research and bridge the gap between supply and demand. 

That’s what makes the U.S. Soybean Research Collaborative different.  

For the first time, the industry has one dedicated staff person, Stowe, to focus daily on how the soybean industry can improve collaboration and communication by fostering the sharing of knowledge and ideas throughout the value chain.  

Guiding the collaboration, Stowe cultivates these relationships by better understanding what checkoff groups, researchers and industry partners are doing. She contemplates how the industry can improve coordination by executing on common goals and a shared vision. USSRC provides the infrastructure for partners to work together on larger projects and grant applications.  

“To help farmers capitalize on new opportunities, we must think about soybean research differently,” Stowe says. “The soybean checkoff has had tremendous success over the last 30 years, but we’ve grabbed a lot of the low-hanging fruit. Growers’ questions today are much more complicated than they were 30 years ago. To answer those questions, it will take a coordinated team of experts from various disciplines, institutions and states.” 

Expanding Opportunities

The 2022 Think Tank event, hosted in Indianapolis this summer, involved various participants ranging from researchers to farmers and sustainability experts to food company executives. 

Guiding the event, Stowe challenged participants to think about soybean research and topics differently. This year’s Think Tank focused on four specific areas: aquaculture, renewable diesel, plant protein, and technology.  

“We wanted to look at topics that would help us bridge this supply and demand gap,” Stowe says.

This approach helps researchers better understand the entire value chain, a request stemming from last year’s event.  

Experts provided an overview and the needs of these four specific markets. After splitting into groups comprised of various interests and expertise, attendees discussed the opportunities and challenges of each market, and how those in the soy value chain have a role to play. 

“There were a lot of ideas in the room from a diverse group of folks: farmers, researchers, industry and university collaborating to discuss the best ways to invest research dollars to advance the soybean system through new uses, increased demand or new technologies to help producers,” says Brent Swart, Iowa Soybean Association District 1 director and farmer near Clear Lake. 

But what is the future of aquaculture, renewable diesel, plant protein, and technology? What role do farmers play in these spaces? What’s the role of industry or state associations, such as ISA?  

Watch for future articles that will break down these topics and further explore opportunities. 

Bethany Baratta is the editor of the Iowa Soybean Review. Contact her at 

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Original posted Oct 3, 2022

Soy Think Tank: Researching Digital Agriculture

Data and technology are changing the landscape of farming. Unbiased research is critical to understand the value these changes bring to farmers, according to John Fulton, a professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the Ohio State University. 

“We are moving toward the connected farm, where people, machines, fields and other assets are connected to the internet,” he explained to a group of soybean farmers, researchers and industry representatives during the first Soybean Research Forum & Think Tank in August 2021, funded by the soy checkoff. “Digital agriculture includes precision agriculture, machinery automation, in-field sensors, data analytics and much more. And it is growing rapidly.”

Fulton cited investments in ag technology funding. He said the $26.1 billion raised by startups in 2020 included a 15.5 percent increase in investments in the ag and food technology sector. This segment of technology was expected to grow another estimated 20 percent in 2021, according to his projections.

For example, during the inaugural Soybean Research Forum & Think Tank, representatives from Inner Plant described how they are genetically adapting plants, including soybeans, to serve as living sensors that signal when there is a production issue, like lack of water or nutrients. 

“Such investments are creating new tools and technologies for farmers,” he said. “Today, more than 200 apps specific to agriculture are available. Research like what we are doing in the Ohio State Digital Agriculture program helps farmers make the most of these technologies.”

However, a few issues need to be addressed as digital agriculture continues moving forward. Fulton explained that rural broadband and internet access in remote areas must improve for the connected farm to be effective. He also noted that many questions and concerns about data access, ownership, use and privacy must be addressed. 

Beyond those big-picture issues, Fulton pointed out that farmers need to understand the value of specific technologies. 

“Ag tech investments fund research focused on product development,” he said. “While that work is critical, farmers also need unbiased research on the value and implementation of technology.”

To provide neutral perspectives that complement industry research, Fulton noted that Ohio State Digital Agriculture conducts and shares research about machinery automation, site-specific management practices or precision agriculturedigital agricultureremote sensingon-farm research and more. For example, research is finding that a combination of drone scouting and analytical tools can improve the speed and accuracy of weed detection and control

The Soybean Research Forum & Think Tank allowed soybean farmers, researchers and industry members to discuss overarching research priorities that would harness synergies between public and private efforts. The idea is that working together would help the soybean industry capitalize on ag technology. It would also help farmers more effectively adopt and implement digital agriculture strategies into their operations. 

Published: Aug 8, 2022 by Laura Temple at

Stowe Named Director of U.S. Soybean Research Collaborative

Ankeny, Iowa – A multi-state soybean research initiative dedicated to more effective coordination and collaboration among all sectors of the industry to the benefit of farmers has named its inaugural director.

Katherine Drake Stowe, PhD, takes the helm of the U.S. Soybean Research Collaborative (USSRC). The project, involving multiple state and national soybean organizations including Qualified State Soybean Boards and United Soybean Board, will initiate and sustain greater connectivity between agronomic soybean research and all facets of the U.S. soy supply chain.

Soybean leaders in Iowa and Illinois have provided initial funding to kickstart the USSRC. Additional funding and engagement partners are reviewing and acting on investment proposals. The project was developed from discussions held at the first annual Soybean Research Forum and Think Tank held last year in Indianapolis.

“Greater coordination and transparency on soybean research are essential to the industry’s future success,” said Stowe, who previously served as research coordinator for the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association (NCSPA). “There are tremendous efficiencies and outcomes that can result from networking more effectively within the U.S. soybean family.”

“I’m looking forward to building bridges between U.S. soybean farmers and public institutions, private industries and federal and state agencies and departments,” she added. “Doing so will enhance the pace and success of checkoff-funded research, bringing greater value to every soybean farmer.”

The project will raise awareness, build bridges and create collaborative public and private partnerships that go beyond traditional research that’s been focused on production and new uses.

One potential outcome from greater collaboration throughout the soy value chain is linking traits and genetics of soybeans produced by farmers with the needs of the end user. This would be especially beneficial as farmers look to grow soybeans yielding greater oil content to meet the needs of processors and users of biofuels, including renewable diesel.

“USSRC is about exploring new research opportunities and endeavors to complement and give added emphasis to what states, regions and USB are leading,” Stowe said. “It’s about adding to, not replacing or usurping the great work that has and is being done.”

Stowe was raised on a family farm in eastern North Carolina where she gained a love and appreciation for agriculture. She attended North Carolina State University where she earned a B.S. in Polymer and Color Chemistry and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Crop Science.

During her time with the NCSPA, Stowe helped soybean growers improve their productivity and profitability by leading the association’s research efforts. She served as the liaison between research partners and soybean farmers and communicated results from sponsored research to growers.

“I have a passion for serving soybean farmers and contributing to their success,” she added. “I look forward to bringing my skills, expertise and relationships to this new endeavor to make USSRC a helpful partner to all sectors of the soybean industry.”

Published March 9, 2022 at

Herbicide Resistance Demonstrates Need for Fresh Perspectives on Research

Dr. Kevin Bradley, state Extension weed scientist and professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri, began his career in 2003, just as a few weeds began to show signs of resistance to glyphosate herbicide.

“At that time, I didn’t realize how herbicide weed resistance would shape my career,” he told a group of soybean farmers, researchers and industry representatives during the inaugural Soybean Research Forum & Think Tank in August 2021. “Years later, most of my research and Extension efforts focus on developing strategies to manage herbicide-resistant weeds.”

Kevin Bradley

His experience has given him a unique perspective on the framework of research needed to allow the soybean industry to thrive in the future. He walked through the development of significant herbicide resistance, especially in the past two decades, pointing out the approach to research for solutions.

“As we addressed herbicide resistance, especially glyphosate weed resistance, the industry was preconditioned to look for herbicide chemistry solutions,” Bradley said. “Based on our experience and current challenges of weeds with resistance to multiple herbicides, it’s clear we need a new mindset.

“We need to think differently.”

When it comes to weed control, Bradley described innovative research exploring the potential for practices like cover cropsharvest weed seed controlseed destruction technologies and bioherbicides. Some research for these concepts is already underway in the United States. He also highlighted less familiar concepts and ideas coming out of Australia and other regions, like weed electrocution and robotics.

“We don’t know how much a part of our future these technologies will be, but that’s why we do research. We don’t know what concepts will work, but as an industry, we need to look into a variety of ideas.”Kevin Bradley

We don’t know how much a part of our future these technologies will be, but that’s why we do the research,” he said. “We don’t know what concepts will work, but as an industry, we need to look into a variety of ideas.”

He encourages soybean farmers, researchers and industry members to learn from the collective experience with resistant weeds and consider how to apply fresh perspectives to other areas of soybean production research.

A new research mindset would improve knowledge and advances in soybean genetics, ag technology, yield, quality, pest management and more. The goal the soybean industry better manage issues as they arise by investigating innovative ideas.

The Soybean Research Forum & Think Tank was a first collective step in that direction. The themes and ideas discussed there have been incorporated into a white paper developed to provide research direction in working together toward a stronger future for the soybean industry.

Learn more of the event from Twitter: #SoyThinkTank.

Published: Nov 29, 2021 by Laura Temple at

Soybean Industry Rallies Around Novel Research Vision

Success can’t be left to chance.

For U.S. soybean farmers to thrive, new, innovative and broad-scoped research must be coordinated with multiple partners up and down today and tomorrow’s value chain. It must also align with farmer priorities and solutions based on the needs of end users.

Easier said than done.

Undeterred, soybean leaders gathered for a first-of-its-kind Soybean Research Forum and Think Tank in Indianapolis. The goal: to improve the industry’s approach to collaborative research to accelerate short- and long-term profits, productivity, and sustainability of US soybean farmers. Yield, sustainable and regenerative agriculture, and new uses and markets were topics of focus.

Attendees included representatives from 19 state soybean organizations (QSSBs), two regional checkoff organizations, the United Soybean Board (USB), 17 state land grant universities, 12 large and small companies, and one federal agency.

“If soybean production and use are going to keep pace with market needs and farmer expectations, then you have to be intentional about identifying and pursuing the basic and applied research opportunities that feed the pipeline,” said Ed Anderson, PhD, Iowa Soybean Association’s Sr. Director of Research and Executive Director of the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP). “That was the vision and the result of our time together in Indianapolis.”

Participants devoted 48 hours of uninterrupted time to evaluating the status of soybean farming and soybean uses today and tomorrow through the lens of research. More importantly, they identified new ways of bringing the right people, expertise and technologies together for making opportunities a reality moving forward.

“The future is bright when we’re focused and working together,” said Anderson, the lead visionary and architect of the forum.

Farmer input

A survey of soybean farmers from around the country was conducted prior to the forum to identify priority research topics. Making the list were yield improvement, soybean quality, regenerative ag, climate resiliency in genetics and production and driving new uses and markets for soybeans.

With priority topics in hand, Anderson and the multistate forum planning team identified speakers and an effective meeting format. Given the diverse audience of soybean industry stakeholders, panel discussions and small and large group dialogues were essentials.

“The most difficult part of any project is getting started,” said Greg Luce, Director of Research for the Missouri Soybean Association. “A forum was needed to propel us to action by identifying issues, who will lead action on those issues and rally an industry-wide effort to do better on research that matters most to farmers.”

Immediately following the forum, QSSB staff further reviewed input captured from the dialogues. Additional discussions with research stakeholders were held during a meeting of state and national soybean staff in October in Nashville.

A completed white paper utilizing the ideas, topics and strategies from the forum and organizing them into objectives and action items will be available.

Focused effort

From a research perspective, the primary outcome of the work, both in Indianapolis and Nashville, was a shared understanding that this important work will only be accomplished through dedicated and directed staff and programming focus, Anderson said.

“And, doing the work with minimal overhead and administrative layers, and no added bureaucracy or politics,” he added.

Four goals emerging from the months-long effort to guide research collaborations powered by the soybean checkoff are:

  • Provide research-based solutions to soybean farmers for fully integrated and intelligent production systems that meet differentiated value opportunities. 
  • Provide organized and focused leadership for cooperation, coordination, and alignment of soybean farmer research priorities and investments among states, regions, and the USB.
  • Establish leadership on partnerships for market research and similar work directed at attaining full connection across the soybean value chain and lead soybean research priorities that enhance farmer profitability.
    • This will enable delivery of short and long-range processors, customer, end-user and consumer-driven products and solutions.   
  • Establish the most cohesive, coordinated, and meaningful research communications and research marketing program to help promote US Soy.
    • Will be done in partnership with soybean checkoff communications and marketing teams with expertise and/or contract relationships in communicating and marketing soybean farmers, farming, and science and technology innovations.

Next steps

The forum and goals established from it are just the beginning.

“Greater coordination and transparency on soybean research is essential,” said Dr. Jim Specht, Emeritus Professor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. “This will enhance the pace and success of research and maximize every soybean checkoff dollar invested.”

Anderson said the soybean industry is energized by the opportunities that greater collaboration will bring and is already acting on the goals.

Batting leadoff is organizing focused leadership to coordinate and align soybean farmer research priorities and investments nationwide.

“It’s rewarding and exciting to see progress on a nationwide, coordinated approach to research,” Anderson said. “Every acre of soybean production and every soybean farmer will be the beneficiary.”

Putze ( serves as Sr. Director of Information and Education for the Iowa Soybean Association. He was also a participant in the Soybean Research Forum and Think Tank held in Indianapolis.

Learn more of the event from Twitter: #SoyThinkTank.

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