Soybean Research RFP Reflects Grower Input

Yield is of primary importance to soybean farmers across Minnesota and is a key focus of research funded by the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC). This year, research into different types of soil and climate conditions ranging from northern to southern Minnesota is especially important as prices have dropped, climate conditions are changing and the geographical production of soybeans has steadily increased into northern Minnesota. 

The MSR&PC invests millions of dollars in soybean research to address the challenges soybean farmers face regularly. This year’s request for proposals (RFP) for soybean research will look a bit different as the organization addresses specific needs of northern Minnesota’s growers.

During the first week of August, soybean farmers were surveyed at plot field days held by county soybean organizations and the soybean checkoff. These surveys provided valuable feedback for the future of soybean production.

Notable results include:

  • 42% of respondents indicated Iron Deficiency Chlorosis was important
  • 36% of respondents indicated Information on Seed Treatment need and effectiveness was important
  • 24% of respondents indicated Root and Stem disease was important
  • 24% of respondents indicated Soybean Cyst Nematode was important
  • 17% of respondents indicated Row Spacing; Fertility; or Yield (for each) was important

These recommendations, made by soybean farmers themselves, were taken into account by the MSRPC Production Action Team. The team then incorporated those needs into the RFP to request research and technology transfer soybean projects that will continue to meet the needs identified by soybean growers across Minnesota.

“The MSR&PC Production Action Team has members from across the state representing Minnesota soybean farmers. Using farmer expressed needs assessment provides us with the most accurate determination of what questions funded research and extension projects can address to help all Minnesota farmers improve their soybean management and increase yields and profitability,” Paul Meints, MN Soybean Research Programs Manager, said. “Region specific needs are incorporated into the request for proposals (RFP) as well as general statewide needs to assure we are finding answers for growers in newly expanding Minnesota soybean production areas as well as established growing regions.”

The RFP for soybean research projects will be released Oct. 1, primarily to University researchers.

The MSR&PC oversees the investment of soybean checkoff dollars on behalf of the state’s soybean farmers. The council is governed by the rules of a federally mandated checkoff program that requires all soybean producers to pay a fee on the soybeans they sell. Funds are used to promote, educate and develop market opportunities for soybeans.

soil tillage field day

U of M Extension to Release Tillage Videos

Do you often wonder what type of tillage is really best for your soil conditions and crop rotation? Or maybe you’re unsure how tractor and implement traffic affects your soil?
While there is no one answer for all farmers, there are many aspects that factor into what is best on your farm. Soil health is valuable to your crop yield year after year, so choosing tillage that will minimize damage to soil structure and avoiding compaction is important. Read more

Frost Damage Being Assessed

An unwelcome early dose of frost across Minnesota over the weekend has left many soybean and corn farmers assessing the damage and wondering about their yield potential. Many areas of Minnesota saw temperatures dip below freezing at least once in the past week.

Damage reports are varied across Minnesota, with some areas being hit hard by frost while others escaped unscathed.

“There seems to be a great degree of variability in the frost damage both in terms of geography and genetics of the fields that were impacted,” says Paul Meints, director of research programs for Minnesota Soybean. 

Meints says information he has gathered from surveys and from scouting puts the estimated yield loss at 5-10 percent statewide. If the top 6-10 inches of the plant are lost, so too is much of the plants photosynthetic capabilities, meaning yields will be impacted.

With the late spring planting conditions throughout many regions of the state, the impact of this early frost was compounded.

Another Look in the Field–Soybean Yield Potential

A number of agriculture news sources released an article last week reporting extraordinary yields in soybean trials at Weslaco, Texas ( EG: The trials were conducted by Stoller Enterprises, Inc. at the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Research center in Weslaco, Texas and reported yields of 214 bushels per acre in replicated trials. This may offer a little insight into soybean genetic yield potential and what Minnesota farmers should consider when trying to maximize their own yield and profit line as well as limitations that may be present in any farm operation.

The trials at Weslaco were irrigated under a drip line and received supplemental fertilization (610 lb/ac N, 40 lb/ac P, 200 lb/ac K) to alleviate those factors as yield limiting. When looking at fertility needs and soybean yield, Salvagiotti et al reported that rhizobium ability to supply N demand in high yielding environments (yield above 5 Mg ha-1 or 74 bu/ac) was uncertain based on their review of the literature. (F. Salvagiotti, K.G Cassman, J.E. Specht, D.T. Walters, A Weiss, and A Dobermann, 2008. Nitrogen uptake, fixation and response to fertilizer N in soybeans: A review. Field Crops Res 108:1-13). John Schmitt, DuPont Pioneer Research Scientist, reported that soil residual and fixed nitrogen were sufficient up to 60 bu/ac but that nitrogen may be limiting as soybean yields approach 80 bu/ac (

University of Minnesota Extension publication AG-FO-03813-C “Fertilizing soybean in Minnesota” by Daniel E. Kaiser and John A. Lamb cited early UMN research that showed conclusively that application of additional nitrogen had no effect on Minnesota soybean yield. It is also commonly reported that the Rhizobium become “lazy” under fertilization and cease fixation. The results reported in this Texas trial indicated that this was not the case here and that the nodules appeared healthy and functional. Finally, keep in mind that Salvagiotti et al reported that unless the soybean to N price ratio was large (high soybean price – low N price), supplemental fertilization would not provide a significant return on investment for the years 2002-2006 that the data was examined. The financial return on additional N remains a vital question that UMN research indicated was not sufficient to warrant application and Salvagiotti et al indicated would only be profitable in specific scenarios in their publication.

Possible questions you might ask are: Can we dramatically increase yields like those in Texas here in Minnesota?; and Could we do it profitably? There are a couple of things to keep in mind as you ask those questions. First what is the true yield potential in our growing environment? Here in Minnesota, yield trials at Becker last year had a few lines at just above 90 bushels, but that yield was not achieved across the state in similar trials. Water, rhizobium activity and soil fertility must be adequate and yield limiting pests and/or pathogens reduced or eliminated to realize full yield potential in the range of relative maturity zones from south to north in Minnesota. Certainly the potential observed at that single location/year and relative maturity group grown at Becker encourages us to consider what might be possible given an optimum field environment over the relative maturities grown across the rest of Minnesota. A solid response to the report out of Texas is to begin now to improve your strategy for soybean production from cultivar selection, rotation, tillage and soil health, and pest management for next year. The best management practices (BMP) and integrated pest management (IPM) strategies available from University of Minnesota Extension and Research should also be part of the seed selection and the planning phase examining how each might be more efficiently integrated into your farming practice.


Will you be able to produce 214 bushel beans next year? Maybe not, but our strategy at Minnesota Soybean is to work with our research and extension partners to increase your yield 10% over trend line in the next five years. That is the goal driving the kind of research and technology transfer the Production Action Team looks to support to assist Minnesota soybean farmers in achieving the maximum yields and profit in any given growing season.

Rail, Transportation Concerns Power Discussions

Participants at the 2014 U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange were treated to a harsh reality Tuesday and Wednesday at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee–infrastructure drives growth, and infrastructure, both globally and in the United States, is degrading.

Walter Kemmsies, Chief Economist for Moffat & Nichol, painted a bleak picture about the U.S. Economy, one that involved a path to a stagnant economy with outdated infrastructure.

“If you want the economy to grow, you need to hitch it to something that will help make it grow,” he said. “We need to concentrate on exports to get that growth.

Kemmsies pointed to Brazil as a country that has developed a plan for infrastructure, one that could have lasting impacts on the U.S. Soy industry. He says Brazil has invested in a major highway that will change how it ships grain to Asia, which means China will be able to buy much cheaper beans then those currently bought from the U.S.

That prospect worries Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Chairman Paul Simonsen.

“The big thing with Brazil is they are going to be such a low-cost seller of soybeans that we aren’t going to be in the same ballpark with them,” he said.

Minnesota Soybean Growers Association director Joel Schruers, who sits on the Market Development action team at Minnesota Soybean, agrees.

“If we lose this market to Brazil it is going to be very upsetting because we don’t have to lose it,” he said. “If we do, we just gave it to them.”

Kemmsies says the U.S. can avoid future troubles by concentrating on rebuilding infrastructure, and then by pushing exports.

Rail Concerns present
Several breakout sessions at the conference focused on rail transportation and the logjam affecting all sectors of rail shipments. Jay O’Neil of O’Neil Commodity Consulting and Senior Agricultural Economist at Kansas State University, says the rail epidemic is bigger than just agriculture.

“Rail business across all sectors has increased,” he said. “It’s not just a grain story. If it were only a grain issue, the problem would be much easier to fix.”

Anne Erickson, General Director of Feed Grains, Feed Products, Oilseeds and Meals for Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad, said their company acknowledges the current struggles with the rail shipments and has pledged to invest $5 billion into capital investments, including adding an additional 500 locomotives to the rail line and increasing and staggering the number of sets produced to accommodate the growing grain industry.

“It’s not about putting more cars out on the railways but getting more out of the assets we already have,” she cautioned the group of industry leaders, agribusiness professionals and international buyers.

O’Neil echoed the comment.

“We need greater efficiencies,” he said. “We need to move more cars in an efficient manner and not just clog up the railroads. We don’t want to play Whack A Mole and just feed the squeaky wheel.”

Even Minnesota Assistant Commisioner of Agriculture Charlie Poster, who presented an overview of crop production and food security in Minnesota, couldn’t escape questions about the rail situation in the U.S.

“Minnesota farmers have done well over the last several years and that is because they are highly productive,” Poster said. “We are producing more and more every year, but we need that effective rail partner to get the goods to the river or to the port and to the people when they need them.”

Buyers Conference Bolsters Global Trade Relationships

International grain buyers, farmers and agribusinesses spent the better part of the 2014 U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange Tuesday and Wednesday in Mlwaukee, Wis., sharing ideas and making connections.

According to Minnesota Research & Promotion Council Chairman Paul Simonsen, that’s the way it should be.

“The value of the conference are the people who are here,” Simonsen said. “This conference gives us access to international people who we normally wouldn’t see unless we traveled oversees.”

Roughly 600 people descended on Milwaukee to learn about the state of the soybean industry as well as other grains, with messages on transportation, sustainability and food security. For farmers like Simonsen, the experience is invaluable.

“The amount of connections and networking that is done is really important,” he said. “This conference empowers our U.S. industry leaders a chance to connect and develop new ideas to reach our industry partners oversees.”

While soybeans were largely on everyone’s minds, an early panel Tuesday also highlighted the importance of diversity in the agriculture industry, not only domestically, but abroad as well.

Teresa Babuscio, Secretary General for COCERAL, says the culture of a business plays a big role in whether women can not only advance, but be taken seriously and contribute. Babuscio encourages women to seek out those companies and to aggressively pursue those positions.”

“Remain dependent in your way of thinking,” she told the audience. “Do not hesitate to challenge and express ideas, even if they are without cause and met with resistance.”

Mariela Urguia, First Vice President, AFACA, Venezuala Feed Manufacturers Association, says women continue to be hired or promoted into prominent roles, and for good reason.

“Our long careers show the strength of the work that can be done,” she said. “We’ve been able to move up the ladder and advance because of the hardwork we’ve done.”

Newly elected U.S. Soybean Export Council chairperson Laura Foell, of Iowa wrapped the Forum with an open plea to minorities and women in agriculture.

“Women and minorities represent new a different viewpoints that we don’t have right now,” she told the audience.

The conference wraps Wednesday, but the work building relatioinshs with international partners continues as approxiametly 55 buyers from SE Asia will continue their journey with a tour of a few Wisconsin facilities before a tour of the Mississippi River at Winona, stops at a pair of Minnesota farms, and presentations at the Minnesota Soybean office in Mankato.

Petefish Taiwan

Taiwan Soybean Meal Buyers Learn Value of Soybean Production

Daniel Goleman, a best-selling author with a Ph.D. in psychology, once said Western business people often don’t grasp the importance of establishing human relationships. When it comes to Minnesota soybean farmers and their customers abroad, nothing could be further from the truth.

Thanks to farmers such as Mike Petefish of Claremont, Minn., and Jeremy Hanson, who farms near Nerstrand, Taiwanese soybean meal buyers have a better understanding of the value of Minnesota soybeans and the dedication that goes into the production of those soybeans, all of which comes from the family farm.

Read more

Soybean Yields Focus of Chinese Buyers Visit to Martin County Farm

A group of Chinese soybean buyers now have a better awareness of U.S. soybean yields and production practices thanks to a tour of a southern Minnesota that included a stop at the Lawrence Sukalski family farm south of Fairmont.

The buyers, visiting Minnesota as part of a tour coordinated by the United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and in conjunction with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC), were in the state to learn more about soybean production and quality.

Read more

big iron farm show

Thousands flock to West Fargo for Big Iron Farm Show

One of the upper Midwest’s largest farm shows is underway this week, bringing farmers from Minnesota, North Dakota, Canada and elsewhere together to see what’s new and important in agriculture. The Big Iron Farm Show features more than 700 exhibitors and annually draws about 85,000 visitors to the three-day event at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo, N.D.

Minnesota Soybean participates in this premier event, promoting the value of the soybean checkoff and the importance of membership in the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. Soybean farmers Kurt Krueger, Jim Kukowski, Theresia Gillie, Cecil Deschene, Kevin Amiot, Elliot Solheim, Bill and Karolyn Zurn all spent time in the Minnesota Soybean booth interacting with their fellow farmers. They joined Justin Ge of MEG Corp and Tom Verry of the National Biodiesel Board, who were on hand to promote biodiesel and answer questions about the industry.

Despite chilly temperatures, rain and gusty winds at times, strong crowds filled the buildings on the Big Iron grounds looking at everything from the newest precision planting equipment to the newest seed genetics, livestock handling equipment and more. Hundreds of farmers took part in information sessions on a range of topics including grain marketing.

South East Asia buyers

Protein, Price and Freight on Minds of SE Asian Soybean Buyers

By Andrea Johnson 
Reprinted with permission of Minnesota Farm Guide

For international soybean buyers, August is a beautiful time of year to visit Minnesota.

Temperatures are comfortable. The soybean fields look great. Minnesota’s lakes and trees welcome guests. Farmers can also relax as they show their fields, their farm sites and their families to importers who buy every second or third row of U.S. soybeans. Giving buyers of soybean and soybean meal a look at Minnesota farms builds trust that helps the U.S. garner sales.

“Relationships are important,” said Sam Ziegler, Minnesota Soybean director of marketing programs. “We have a very high quality product, and we are building a high level of trust in our products to match it.”

Southeast Asia delegates traveled through Minnesota in late August. They visited Lance Peterson’s farm near Underwood, Jeffery and Karen Larson’s farm near Evansville, and Michael O’Leary’s farm near Danvers, as well as several ag industries.

Port of Grays Harbor AGP Terminal
Ziegler pointed out that one of the greatest marketing successes for northern soybeans began when AGP built a facility on Washington’s Pacific Coast about eight years ago. Soybean checkoff groups from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska joined efforts to promote the new terminal, and bring buyers from Asia to farms in the Upper Midwest.

“This partnership has allowed buyers to see Upper Midwest soybeans from planting to harvest and shipment to the Port of Grays Harbor,” he said. “This has proven that this region of the U.S. can produce some of the highest quality soybeans in the world, and maintain that quality to their warehouse in Asia.”

Here are a few thoughts from three of the delegates:

Sri Lanka
Dr. Athula Mahagamage is a partner in Global Nutrition & Management Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Sri Lanka.
He is a veterinarian, and also has his MBA in Financial Administration.

A merchandiser in facilitating trade between the U.S. and Sri Lanka, he advocates for the use of genetically modified (GM) crops.

Sri Lanka is an island country off the southeast coast of the India subcontinent of South Asia. The population is about 20 million, and a few years ago, they banned GM crops.

In his role, Dr. Mahagamage has worked to explain that the GM soybeans hold no health threat. He’s also worked to increase soybean meal sales from the U.S. to Sri Lanka.

In 2012, his country imported 9,014 metric tons (20 million pounds) of soybean meal; and in 2013, the number was 41,065 metric tons (90.5 million pounds). So far in 2014, Sri Lanka has imported 32,539 metric tons (72 million pounds) of soybean meal, according to the USDA Foreign Ag Service.
Dr. Mahagamage said he can easily see the high quality of U.S. soybeans, but his biggest challenge has been related to freight and container-availability issues.

Mr. Somphob Auesongtham is the supply chain and global sourcing manager for Inteqc Feed Co., Ltd. of Thailand.

The company’s main business is to manufacture and market animal feed additives. They specialize in shrimp, fish and swine feed, and are the second largest fish feed manufacturer in Thailand.

With a population of 64.5 million people, Thailand is located west of Vietnam.

Thailand purchased 360,000 metric tons (13 million bushels) of soybeans in 2012, 568,000 metric tons (20.1 million bushels) in 2013, and 426,600 metric tons (15.76 million bushels) in 2014.

They purchased 10,000 metric tons (22 million pounds) of meal in 2012, 15,000 metric tons (33 million pounds) in 2013, and so far have purchased 368,400 metric tons (812 million pounds) of soybean meal in 2014.

Auesongtham worked with a group of 20 companies to ship several Panamax ships filled with soybean meal to Thailand this year. He added that Thailand feed companies generally need either high protein soybean products that cost more to purchase, or they want low protein products that are inexpensive.
His biggest question in August was asking why soybean meal prices remained high when soybean prices had dropped significantly.

Ms. Tran Ngoc Thuy (Tina) is a purchasing manager in Vietnam for De Heus, a privately owned business with global operations.

One of the top 15 suppliers of animal feed in the world, De Heus operates in more than 50 countries outside of its headquarters in the Netherlands, and has more than 3,000 employees. The feed manufacturers are building their fifth and sixth factories in Vietnam to provide high quality feed for pigs, poultry and cattle for the country’s 89 million people.

“The farms are very big in the U.S., if you compare with Vietnam where there are smaller farms,” she added. “You hear reports there are big farms, but you come here and you see it with your own eyes.
“The machinery is very modern, and you can’t find that in Vietnam.”

De Heus also has operations in Brazil, and the company will buy soybeans from whatever country has the best product to meet their needs at the best price. They are primarily interested in protein levels, Tina added.

Vietnam purchased 297,000 metric tons (10.9 million bushels) of soybeans in 2012, 608,000 metric tons (22.3 million bushels) in 2013, and 516,000 metric tons (19 million bushels) in 2014. They purchased 58,000 metric tons (128 million pounds) of soybean meal in 2012, 268,500 metric tons (592 million pounds) in 2013, and 316,000 metric tons (696.6 million pounds) in 2014.

Tina encourages U.S. farmers to keep doing a great job of producing high quality soybeans, and she also wants everyone to visit Vietnam. The best months to travel there are April, May and October, although travel in Southern Vietnam is still good from November to February – the same time as U.S. soybean farmers can take time away from their farms.

When you think of all of the steps that it takes to raise soybeans here for livestock feed in Southeast Asia, it’s really amazing that it gets done.

Success has occurred because of good relationships built between countries.

“Today, the AGP terminal at the Port of Grays Harbor is one of the greatest marketing successes for soybeans,” said Ziegler. “Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka and many other countries in Southeast Asia are huge customers, and will continue to be for many years to come, thanks to farmers showing their crops – and this great partnership with AGP.”