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ISA scores at ISU

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ISA Directors Steph Essick and Suzanne Shirbroun discuss the latest in aphid research with ISU Entomologist Erin Hodgson during a recent day of research presentation at ISU. Photo: Allie Arp, Iowa Soybean Association.

By Allie Arp, ISA research communications specialist

Football season may be over, but that didn’t stop Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) Board of Directors from scoring big at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames last week. The Iowa Soybean Research Center at Iowa State University (ISU) hosted the board members in the Sukup Endzone Club as part of an ongoing effort to build and improve connections between researchers and farmers.

“This is all about strengthening the relationship between ISA and ISU,” said Greg Tylka, Iowa Soybean Research Center director. “The center is always working to bring new scientists into soybean research and to get them in front of the board.”

Four presentations were given discussing the innovative research being funded by the center. Gwynn Beattie, a professor in the plant pathology and microbiology department, shared the beginning of her research looking at how improving soybean roots can help them attract beneficial microbes to enhance growth. Steve Whitham, also a plant pathology and microbiology professor, explained a CRISPR gene editing project that generated a lot of questions from attendees about the potential of the new technology and the challenges it may face.

Perhaps the most innovative presentations came from Arti Singh, adjunct assistant professor of agronomy, and Baskar Ganapathysubramanian, associate professor of mechanical engineering. They presented two sides of a new project that involves using robotics, something called computer learning and a phone application to identify foliar diseases in soybeans. Part of their research involved using 450 cameras taking images every 10 minutes of daylight for 45 days. This resulted in 150GB of data and more than 20,000 images every day. Bringing agronomy and engineering together is a novel concept being explored by ISU researchers with funding help from ISA.

“Thank you, ISA, for allowing us to do this work and for believing this was possible,” Singh said during her presentation.

Members of ISA's board listen to presentations from ISU researchers from inside the Sukup Endzone Club. Photo: Allie Arp, Iowa Soybean Association.

In addition to the presentations, there were more than two dozen posters on display about ISA- and center-funded projects with the researchers on-hand to talk about their projects and answer farmers’ questions. While the scientists may have been the ones explaining their research, farmers weren’t the only ones who were learning.

“Questions from the Iowa Soybean board help direct and provide context for our researchers,” said Tylka. “The farmers may not think so, but all afternoon the speakers will be thinking about their conversations. It’s a great way to strengthen the context of the research and how their work is applicable in the field.”

Even though it will be years before much of the presented research makes its way into farmers’ hands, board members found the information and overall experience valuable.

“It’s good for us as board members to see what we are supporting,” said Steph Essick, farmer director from Dickens. “We also learned about future research here at ISU and how it can help us on the farm and impact all Iowa soybean farmers.”

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.

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