Updated: December 17, 2018
The soy checkoff regularly invests a portion of its budget in production research to increase and protect soybean yields and to improve soybean composition. This public-sector research serves a foundational role in the private sector’s continued improvement in developing various traits and commercializing those products. USB and state soybean boards work together closely to coordinate and collaborate on research investments. In addition, USB and state soybean boards have put more focus on conveying technology, research results and best management practices directly to farmers.
Why the Checkoff Cares
The soy checkoff’s mission is to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers, and that starts in the field with checkoff-funded research. This research has the potential to positively affect profitability, which is why the checkoff and state soybean boards are committed to putting this knowledge in farmers’ hands so they can use it.
- One of the checkoff’s greatest research successes was assisting in sequencing the soybean genome. This reference guide has been used throughout the U.S. soybean industry to speed up the identification of new, valuable genes. It expedites the development of new varieties, such as those with better resistance to diseases and environmental stressors.
- To protect and increase yields, the checkoff invests in plant-breeding research, genomics and molecular genetics, as well as the identification of best management practices.
- Checkoff-funded research also supported the expansion of high oleic soybean varieties. These varieties produce oil that has improved functionality for many key markets as well as adds demand and creates new markets for U.S. soybean oil. In 2017, farmers planted approximately 650,000 acres of high oleic soybeans.
- Checkoff-funded research explores improvements to the nutritional qualities of soybeans such as protein level, digestibility and amino acid content.
- The soy checkoff funds production research at land-grant universities across the nation. These projects, along with the collaborative relationship between the public and private sectors that the checkoff fosters, are critical to developing new technology that benefits farmers.
- Private companies often rely on checkoff-funded research as the groundwork to develop new commercial varieties. Since the checkoff began, more than 180 exotic pedigree lines have been transferred to four commercial breeding companies.
- The soy checkoff has played a leading role in establishing Take Action, an industry-wide partnership to help farmers manage herbicide, fungicide and insect resistance. This effort encourages farmers to adopt research-proven pest management practices that lessen the impact of resistant weeds, diseases and insects as well as preserve current and future pest control technology.
- Checkoff-funded research gives scientists the opportunity to find and harness the untapped potential of soybean genetics and research technologies.
Facts & Figures
- The national U.S. soybean yield average has increased by 20 bushels per acre since 1981. The average yield in 2017 was 49.1 bushels per acre.
- The checkoff funds about 25 percent of soybean research at land-grant universities and other public institutions.
- More than 30 percent of USB research dollars goes to students and post-doctoral fellows.