Iowa Soybean Association Research Team Lead

Christie Wiebbecke, Sr. Director of Research (Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

RCFI Update: Stepping up our game

May 31, 2023 | Christie Wiebbecke, PhD

When I stepped into my role as the senior director of research at the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) in January, I had two things on my mind: Getting to know the Research Center for Farming Innovation (RCFI) team and learning how our mission meets the needs of the farmers we serve. I was suited up and ready to step on the field.

With an updated roster due to staff changes within the past six months, it was time for a new game plan to carry us into the next season. ISA RCFI Director of Conservation Roger Wolf, RCFI Director of Research Joe McClure and I rolled out a redesigned structure to deliver more efficient and effective on-farm research and environmental programming to serve Iowa farmers.

The research leadership team, with support of ISA CEO Kirk Leeds and my predecessor, Ed Anderson, intentionally redesigned RCFI to deliver on our mission. Our goal is to provide robust agronomic and environmentally sound on-farm research programming supporting Iowa soybean farmers to enhance productivity, profitability, and sustainability.

So, what does this mean for you? In a nutshell, we simplified our structure to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness. It means freeing up the RCFI team to support research projects, discover technical insights and leverage those lessons to provide technical expertise on the farm. It means quickly identifying collaborators internally and externally. Our organizational structure is designed to support the constant loop from question to on-farm implementation.

In RCFI, we have two main houses of work: research and conservation. Research is designing experiments to generate data and insights to enhance productivity, profitability and sustainability. As we listen to farmers, industry experts and public researchers we formulate questions. In RCFI reimagined, our research agronomists collaborate with their peers to gain perspective on data and insights, conservation programming, and conservation agronomy to build robust trials.

Conservation includes technical education and outreach to drive implementation in supporting Iowa farmers. It may seem, at times, counterintuitive to think that conservation practices can drive enhanced productivity and profitability. In previous roles, I thought primarily about yield, yield and more yield, with a few other complexities. Here, we have a unique opportunity to intentionally design research projects to generate data and insights. This will help develop technical outreach materials to enhance our understanding in how to make conservation practices drive productivity and profitability, the trifecta of our mission.

It is an exciting time to be a part of ISA RCFI. We’re getting back on the field after a huddle, energized and ready to serve Iowa farmers. We are driven to deliver our mission to champion holistic research programming reflecting Iowa soybean farmers’ top priorities through on-farm research, education and outreach, and technical assistance. Scan the QR code below to check out ISA’s updated research webpage and meet the staff who make up our awesome RCFI team.

Wishing you all a safe, productive, and profitable season.