For the second annual Minnesota Soybean Grower-Researcher Retreat, David Kee wanted to try a different format. Last year, the farmers sat at round tables while the researchers moved throughout the room.
This year, Kee, Minnesota Soybean’s director of research, flipped the script. The farmers would come to the researchers.
“Farmers like to move around,” Kee says. “We want the growers talking to the researchers about problems and solutions. The whole goal of this retreat is to generate conversation long-term, take a good idea, run with it and make a better idea.”
About 70 growers and researchers from around the Midwest made the trek to Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake for a two-day discussion on the state of soybean production and research. Topics ranged from weed management to plant breeding, agronomy and environmental issues.
The growers switched tables every 30 minutes, spurring lively and eclectic dialogue with University of Minnesota Extension, funded graduate students and industry partners.
MSR&PC Secretary Pat Sullivan says he found the conversations beneficial and informative.
“I really enjoyed talking to the researchers and industry folks,” he says. “There were healthy, one-on-one exchanges that went to a lot of varied places. I think everyone who participated can take something away from this conference.”
Dr. Bob Koch, a University of Minnesota entomologist, praised the ideas and thoughts the growers brought to the conversations.
“There was really robust dialogue in a very relaxed atmosphere,” he says. “There was a lot of outside-the-box thinking, and I think everyone from the University really enjoyed this; there was a lot of back-and-forth educating. Hats off to Minnesota Soybean for another top-notch event.”
MSR&PC Director Kris Folland hopes the retreat will become a marquee summer event for farmer leaders.
“I think we’ve really created an environment where it’s a casual yet intellectual meeting,” Folland says. “It really brings all the players to the table, from production to public policy. Honestly, I can’t wait for next year.”