It was Purdue Day at the Indiana State Fair on Friday, and the Purdue School of Agriculture took the opportunity to announce a new soybean research center. Purdue Dean of Agriculture Jay Akridge said the new center will bring together soybean research from a variety of different disciplines with the goal of engaging in new research efforts that are not being made now and will likely result in new soybean research breakthroughs, “This kind of collaboration will spur research in new areas and will make connections that we are not currently making.” During a press conference at the Glass Barn at the Indiana State Fair, Akridge said that Purdue’s work with the soybean industry is important because soybeans are a major crop in Indiana, where farmers last year produced 264.7 million bushels, fourth highest in the nation, on 5.2 million acres. This year, Indiana farmers planted 5.5 million acres in soybeans. That value chain, Marshall Martin noted, links research in such areas as animal and human nutrition sciences; food science; aquaculture; plant pathology; economics; engineering; genetics and breeding; agronomic production practices; and entomology.
The Soybean Center will formally begin operations in the fall. Marshall Martin, senior associate director of agricultural research, assistant dean of agriculture, and a professor of agricultural economics, was appointed as the center’s founding director for two years. Martin told HAT the focus will be to improve the profitability of soybeans all along the value chain, “With more than 40 faculty and staff members at Purdue whose work in some way involves soybeans, we are pooling our resources to help tackle some of the complex challenges affecting the efficiency and profitability of the soybean industry as well as the food nutrition needs of the public.” That value chain, Martin noted, links research in such areas as animal and human nutrition sciences; food science; aquaculture; plant pathology; economics; engineering; genetics and breeding; agronomic production practices; and entomology.
Indiana soybean farmers will play a role in this new center, as funding from the soybean checkoff will continue to fund new research efforts. David Lowe, President of the ISA, says the Indiana soybean checkoff has invested over $10 million in soybean research at Purdue since its inception, “Bringing together all of the faculty whose work touches on soybeans under one umbrella will allow us to ensure that our checkoff investments at Purdue are used efficiently and in the best interest of Indiana soybean farmers.” A major component of the center’s activities will be the involvement of the soybean industry. “The creation of the Purdue Soybean Center will allow us to build upon the solid working relationship the Indiana Soybean Alliance has with the university and expand our opportunities to collaborate on important issues affecting our farmers and the entire soybean industry,” said Jane Ade Stevens, CEO of the ISA.