Iowa Soybean Research Center funds three new research projects, holds Think Tank

Headshots of two smiling women with soybean plants in background
Silvina Arias and Leonor Leandro, plant pathology, entomology and microbiology, will lead three new ISRC-funded soybean research projects. Photos courtesy of Iowa State.

AMES, Iowa – The Iowa Soybean Research Center’s Industry Advisory Council (IAC) met in September for its annual meeting to consider proposed soybean research ideas and offer guidance on how to best invest $414,000 in available new funding. 

The council is made up of three Iowa soybean farmer and 20 industry partner representatives and is led by IAC Chair, Christie Wiebbecke, senior director of research for the Iowa Soybean Association and ISRC Director Greg Tylka, professor of plant pathology, entomology and microbiology at Iowa State University.

Based on the IAC’s recommendations, the ISRC management team funded three new soybean research projects, described below.

New projects

Characterization of iron deficiency and Fusarium graminearum interactive responses in soybean
Silvina Arias, adjunct assistant professor of plant pathology, entomology and microbiology, will study characterization of soybean genes that are differentially regulated by the host during F. graminearum infection in an iron deficiency environment to identify new potential resistance mechanisms and candidate genes involved in the defense response. Jamie O’Rourke, research geneticist, agronomy, is a collaborator on this project.

Application of innovative intercropping practices to increase soybean production in Iowa
Silvina Arias will study the application of intercropping practices involving the harvest of Iowa’s main cash crop, soybean, plus the harvest of a second crop in the same field in the same year, reducing negative environmental costs. Additionally, the project will look at the potential to plant soybean with winter crops, such as small grainsand oilseed crops (canola), as a way to take advantage of Iowa’s six-month fallow period. Other investigators include Leonor Leandro, professor of plant pathology, entomology and microbiology, and Mark Licht, associate professor of agronomy.

Soil amendment with biofuel industry co-products for improving soybean disease management and soil health
Leonor Leandro, professor of plant pathology, entomology and microbiology, will determine if soil amended with co-products from the biofuel industry, namely biochar and digestate, can suppress soybean diseases caused by soilborne pathogens. Their research will focus on the pathogens that cause soybean sudden death syndrome and soybean root rot due to their economic importance and their soilborne nature. Co-investigators include Santanu Bakshi, Bioeconomy Institute and Lisa Schulte Moore, Bioeconomy Institute andnatural resource ecology and management.

Think Tank

In addition to the ISRC’s annual advisory council meeting, the group held a Think Tank to discuss the challenges and direction of soybean production research. Nearly 40 individuals participated, representing Iowa soybean farmers, agricultural industry, Iowa State researchers and the Iowa Soybean Association, including most of the ISRC’s advisory council. A myriad of research topics and gaps were identified, including a changing climate, soil health, specific diseases and pests, markets and government regulations, plant health versus profitability, funding issues, scalability of data, emerging technologies, the need for remote sensing and smaller equipment, and the need for academia and industry to work together more effectively. The ISRC plans to share the takeaways from the Think Tank with its stakeholders to help shape the direction of future soybean production research through the center.

About the Iowa Soybean Research Center

The Iowa Soybean Research Center was established in 2014 by Iowa State University in partnership with the Iowa Soybean Association. The center was founded to increase soybean production and profitability for Iowa farmers through coordinated research efforts involving Iowa State, the Iowa Soybean Association and the private sector. Information on becoming an industry partner of the Iowa Soybean Research Center is available by contacting center director Greg Tylka, 515-294-0878 or

About the ISRC Industry Advisory Council

The ISRC Industry Advisory Council is a formal collaboration of Iowa soybean farmers, industry partners, the Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Current industry partners include AGCO, Ag Ingenuity, Albaugh, AMVAC, BASF, Bayer, Beck’s, Cornelius Seed, Corteva Agriscience, FMC, GDM, Innvictis/Simplot, Meristem, Merschman Seeds, Mosaic, Nutrien, Peterson Genetics, Sound Agriculture, Syngenta and UPL. Each industry partner has a representative who serves on the center’s advisory council along with three farmer representatives. The council meets annually to provide feedback on what research they would like to see funded.


Kara Berg, Iowa Soybean Research Center, 515-294-8927,
Greg Tylka, Iowa Soybean Research Center, 515-294-0878,
Christie Wiebbecke, Iowa Soybean Association, 515-334-1082,