By DOUG SCHMITZ
AMES, Iowa — BASF Corp. has announced plans to join Iowa State University’s Iowa Soybean Research Center as an industry partner, to support emerging technology and innovations to help soybean growers produce high-yielding, high-quality soybeans.
“We welcome and look forward to collaborating with BASF,” said Greg Tylka, the center’s director and a professor of plant pathology and microbiology. “We appreciate BASF’s financial support. Their partnership with the center underscores their commitment to research in the area of soybean production and illustrates their understanding of the real-world challenges that Iowa soybean farmers face.”
Established as a partnership between the Iowa Soybean Assoc. (ISA) and ISU, the center was created in 2014 to “forge strong public-private collaborations to support Iowa soybean growers.”
Headquartered in Florham Park, N.J., BASF is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany, with more than 20,000 employees in North America and sales of $19.7 billion in 2018.
“BASF is committed to supporting the industry, and we believe it is important to partner with organizations like the Iowa Soybean Research Center,” said Julia Daum, the company’s senior program lead for trait research, who will represent the company on the center’s Industry Advisory Council (ISRC) that provides input on research priorities.
“We are excited about the research center’s new opportunities and innovations for soybean growers that will provide long-term benefits for their operations.”
Ed Anderson, ISA senior director of research and chair of the center’s ISRC, said, “We welcome BASF’s commitment as an industry partner and see it as an important step in how the center facilitates public-private collaborations to better meet the research and production-information needs of Iowa soybean farmers.”
Clarke McGrath, the center’s on-farm research and extension coordinator, and an ISU agronomist, said, “BASF joining our ranks brings additional global perspective to the advisory council. Their expertise will help guide priorities and their financial contributions will support research and educational activities that convey the results of our research to the people we work to serve: Iowa’s soybean farmers.”
He said any private or public entity may become a member of the center.
“The goal is to have widespread input from individuals representing key segments of the soybean production and protection system,” he explained. “We also encourage membership from select non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with expertise on policy, social, and environmental issues.”
While the center’s numbers have fluctuated, given industry mergers/consolidation, McGrath said the ISRC now has three industry partners: BASF, Bayer, and Cornelius Seed.
“Our longest-standing industry partners – Bayer and Cornelius Seed – have set the bar high for our newest partner, BASF, and future partners. Their representatives have graciously contributed time, travel, expertise, and financial support, which has generated research projects (and results) that will have long-term benefits for Iowa farmers and the environment,” he added.
Having participated in many of the conversations and meetings, McGrath said his takeaway is “the industry perspectives that our friends from Bayer and Cornelius Seed provide are invaluable.”
“Their willingness to have candid conversations about what they see as current and future challenges sets the tone, and they make it clear they want to hear what the farmers and researchers on the council think as we set research priorities.
“(We) have an excellent group of farmers on the council, too,” he noted. “It is pretty amazing to see the industry reps and producers lay out their challenges and then work with researchers to put projects together. I see a lot of university researchers work with farmers, and industry does a lot of research with their farmer customers as well. Combined industry/university research is fairly common.”
He said what is unique about the center, and what makes the ISRC so effective, is it brings all three sectors together. “That collaboration has generated an impressive and lengthy list of current and potential future research projects.”
To view a list the center’s current and past research projects, visit www.iowasoybeancenter.org/research.html