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ISA Research Team: “Driven To Deliver”

Article cover photo
Ed Anderson, ISA senior director of research, says ISA's expertise, experience, large data sets and farmer-focused approach allows the organization to deliver results for Iowa's soybean farmers. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Ed Anderson, ISA senior director of research, and Roger Wolf, ISA director of innovation & integrated solutions

The Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) research team is driven to deliver profitable agronomic, conservation and analytics outcomes that contribute to the short and long-term vitality of farmers and communities.

With nearly 40,000 soybean producers across Iowa, ISA’s research team is gearing up for the future recognizing the challenges, needs and opportunities farmers have in their geographic settings.

Professional hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said, “I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” Similarly, the ISA’s research team is building on our past successes and announcing the formation of the ISA Research Center for Farming Innovation.

The new structure more seamlessly integrates our internal On-Farm Network, Environmental Programs and Services and Analytics programs while leveraging external partnerships. This change will further enable farmers to lead in their communities and meet their goals.

We believe our expertise, experience, large data sets and farmer-focused approach place us in a unique position. We will deliver innovative and transformational research, tools and technical assistance at the intersection of cropping systems, conservation and data-driven decision-making. Embracing this holistic approach in developing systems and practices that are more profitable, resilient and sustainable will be keys to our success.

Our vision is to add even more intensity and focus to our work while leveraging the soybean checkoff with more non-checkoff investments. Taking a big picture view of agricultural research, communications and outreach are important.

We intend to further strengthen our partner relationships, notably with Iowa State University (ISU), as well as other universities. There will be strong synergies with the ISU Iowa Soybean Research Center and the Iowa Nutrient Research Center. There will also be more opportunities to work with other state and regional soybean checkoff organizations, the United Soybean Board, other farm and commodity organizations, state and local agencies and companies engaged in seed, crop protection, precision and digital agriculture.

We will collaborate with ag retailers and certified crop advisors for complementary areas of research, staffing, technical assistance and communication coordination. Together, we will broadly accelerate farming advances for profitability and sustainability.

Roger Wolf, ISA director of innovation & integrated solutions, farmers and partners to engage with ISA through upcoming activities.. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

We invite farmers and partners to engage with us. In the short term, our teams will offer new opportunities to support geographically centric and relevant farmer-led programming. We anticipate dedicated projects in areas that connect infield agronomic cropping systems research with technical assistance on soil health, integration of livestock systems, and infield and edge-of-field water management infrastructure.

For example, we will be working on the following initiatives:

  • Assisting farmers with optimizing nutrient management, reduced tillage or no-till/strip till systems, pest and weed management, manure management, integrating cover crops successfully into cropping systems, integrating conservation practices into farming systems, drainage water management, edge of field practices, and integrating pollinator habitat among others.
  • Scaling-up watershed-based soil and water quality programming onto more farms and expanding these to larger areas with use of practices that reduce nutrient loss and build stronger, more resilient soils. We will continue to leverage use of our accredited and certified water quality testing laboratory and sampling water at edge of field and stream scales providing information to partners, helping guide where to focus work and validating water quality performance of practices.
  • Utilizing robust planning tools and processes to work with local groups of farmers and landowners and collaborative partnerships with downstream interests such as water utilities and cities working to broaden support of implementation strategies.
  • Working to organize new farmer peer groups to develop new research and evaluation projects using precision ag tools, remote sensing, machine learning and data analytics generating localize response information that farmers can act upon with confidence.
  • Developing and testing innovative programs that will include new revenue drivers such as capturing value from ecosystem services. These new funding streams will reward farmers for producing outcomes such as reducing nutrient loss, building soil organic matter and soil carbon and delivering wildlife habitat value. Doing this will result in stronger soils, cleaner water and cropping and livestock system practices and infrastructure that performs and pencils-out.

Our position and focus will bring value to the farmer, by leveraging our strengths with new information and application relevant to them.

Projects will be developed under scientifically sound and statistically robust methodologies where our analytics team’s expertise and tools will help us in the development and use of predictive models and decision tools aimed at holistically enabling farmers to gain confidence in the choices and investments being made on their farms.

We are uniquely staffed and credible to deliver in these areas where agronomy, conservation, natural resource management, engineering and data analytics intersect and combine to drive return on investment.

We will competitively pursue non-checkoff investments to help support our programs, deploy a statewide distributed workforce and network of partners to broaden, deepen and accelerate the value that the Iowa Soybean Association brings to farmers we represent and serve.

For media inquiries, permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at © 2020 Iowa Soybean Association. All rights reserved.