ISA and ISU — Partners in Progress02/08/2018 | Crop Production Research, Soil Health, Water Quality, Soybean News
By Matthew Wilde, ISA senior writer
Iowa State University’s (ISU) long-standing relationship with soybean farmers won’t change a bit with a new leader at the helm.
In fact, ISU President Wendy Wintersteen, Ph.D, told more than 400 producers and industry partners at the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) Farmer Research Conference on Wednesday their partnership will be stronger than ever. The symbiotic relationship, she said, benefits agriculture and all Iowans.
ISU’s 16th and first female president talked about past successes and her vision for the future during a lunch keynote address at the two-day conference. Joe Colletti, Ph.D., ISU interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, also updated attendees on the search for a new dean of the department— Wintersteen’s previous position.
After decades at ISU, Wintersteen said she was “humbled and honored” by the unanimous vote by the Iowa Board of Regents in October to appoint her university president. She will always be a strong advocate for farmers.
“I care deeply about agriculture and what we do together,” Wintersteen said. “Iowa State has a great partnership with the Iowa Soybean Association. It’s a great benefit to Iowa soybean producers.”
ISA has invested about $55 million of soybean checkoff funds in ISU’s soybean research and Extension and Outreach programs the past 50-plus years. The money is almost always leveraged with industry and other agencies for a greater return on investment, ISA leaders say.
While it’s impossible to exactly quantify the return, ISU officials conservatively estimate it in the hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. Checkoff-funded research at ISU has led to higher-yielding soybean varieties, better plant resistance to diseases and pests and improved management practices.
Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) research is a perfect example, said ISU nematologist Greg Tylka, Ph.D. Losses today are typically 5 to 20 percent instead of double that or more, he said.
“Every day I’m out talking about the great return on investment,” Wintersteen said. “In my new role I will continue to care about agriculture.
“Funds invested in ISU will help ensure Iowa’s future,” she continued. “We will build it together.”
Ed Anderson, Ph.D, ISA senior director of research, said ISA and ISU have always had a great relationship, driven primarily by a substantive research and outreach portfolio that is farmer-focused.
The Iowa Soybean Research Center at ISU is one of the largest collaborations. The center was created in 2014 to enhance public and private partnerships on production research programs that are important to the entire soybean industry.
“We very much appreciate the productive partnership, especially in the areas of research,” Anderson said.
Wintersteen’s special mention of collaborative projects with ISA to improve water quality and butterfly habitat proves that. She said the Monarch Conservation Consortium is one of her favorites.
“It will bring great benefit to Iowa farmers if they don’t have to deal with an endangered species,” Wintersteen added.
Ag leader sought
The hunt for the next dean of the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences continues.
A 20-member search committee of faculty, students and other individuals convened in January, according to Colletti. The group will determine characteristics and requirements required to fill the position.
Candidates will be vetted in the summer and interviewed in the fall. The goal is to name the next dean in the late fall or by January at the latest, Colletti said. He doesn’t anticipate a shortage of qualified candidates.
“It’s truly a great place to work,” he said.
The ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences was recently ranked No. 11 out of 300 colleges of agriculture worldwide, according to QS World University Rankings. About 4,600 students are enrolled in ag programs — nearly double the amount since 2000 — and enjoy a 98 percent placement rate.
While good, Colletti said the next dean will help them improve.
“Our No. 1 product is the next crop of students,” he said. “We take that mission seriously.”
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