Prepare to innovate

(Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

Executive Insights: Prepared to Innovate

February 7, 2022 | Kirk Leeds

February’s cold and snow will soon give way to spring and the start of the 2022 growing season.

The transition from one season to another happens fast in Iowa. Since fortune favors the prepared, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) traditionally focuses its February editorial coverage and programming on production research to help farmers get a jump-start on the new crop year.

This edition of the Iowa Soybean Review is a timely example. ISA’s Research Center for Farming Innovation (RCFI) takes center stage as it continues identifying new ways to boost soybean production and profit potential in tandem with improved soil and water quality. Within these pages, you’ll learn more about the efforts and how they can positively impact your bottom line.

On the programming front, plan to attend ISA’s Innovation to Profit Conference to be held Wednesday, Feb. 17, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny. Opening and closing sessions will pencil out the economics of growing soybeans this year and the ongoing impact of supply chain bottlenecks on input prices. Sandwiched in between are breakout sessions touching on a variety of topics, from boosting profits by improving soil health and water management to using a systems approach to achieving high yields. There’s no cost to attend. To register, go to

The Innovation to Profit conference will also preview the soybean industry’s new approach to research. The global value chain for soybeans and soybean products is rapidly evolving. To better anticipate these changes so we can make the most of them, ISA is leading a national effort to ensure research, communications and outreach work together effectively.

To provide traction and direction for this mission, soybean leaders from multiple states are acting on a proposed U.S. Soybean Research Collaborative (USSRC). The program is an outcome of the Soybean Research Forum and Think Tank held recently in Indianapolis. USSRC will further enable Iowa and U.S. soybean farmers to be the most profitable, productive and sustainable suppliers for current and emerging markets. The mission will be accomplished by providing more effective networking within the U.S. soybean family and with public institutions, federal/state agencies and departments, and private industry.

While the soybean family has been working toward this outcome for quite some time, USSRC will bring much-needed focus to our efforts. Efficiencies can be gained throughout the soybean value chain by linking the traits and genetics of soybeans grown by farmers with the end user’s needs. A timely example of this synergy is better communication and linkages from renewable biofuels (second generation) and feedstock requirements with the breeders, biotechnologists, agri-technologists, agronomists and farmers who can create and produce the desired oil and other composition profiles.

For the U.S. soybean industry to make the most of next 20 years, we must rethink our approach to research, forge new partnerships, disrupt from within and better define the value proposition of U.S. soy. USSRC impacts all four of these strategic imperatives. Our emphasis on production research in February is the ideal time to give prominence to these pursuits. I encourage your active engagement and participation.