Checkoff-Funded Production Research

Updated: February 2, 2017

Current Situation

The soy checkoff regularly invests a portion of its budget in production research to help increase and protect soybean yields and to improve soybean composition. This public-sector research serves an important role in the private sector’s continued improvement in variety development and commercialization. The research serves as a foundation that private companies often build upon when they further develop various traits. 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 transferring technology, research results and best-management practices directly to farmers.

Why the Checkoff Cares

The national 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 affect profitability, which is why the checkoff and state soybean boards are committed to putting this knowledge in farmer’s hands so they can use it.

Key Points

  • One of the checkoff’s greatest research successes was helping to sequence 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 aids in the more rapid development of new varieties, such as those with better resistance to diseases and environmental stressors.
  • Checkoff-funded research also supported the expansion of high oleic soybean varieties. These varieties produce oil that has improved functionality for many key markets and could add demand and create new markets for U.S. soybean oil. In 2016, farmers planted 450,000 acres of high oleic soybeans.
  • 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 explores increasing the value of U.S. soy through meal improvements, including increased levels of protein in the soybean and an overall improved nutritional bundle.
  • The soybean 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 checkoff invests in partnerships to communicate research results and best-management practices directly to farmers.
  • The soy checkoff has played a leading role in establishing Take Action,an industry-wide partnership to help farmers manage herbicide resistance. This effort encourages farmers to adopt research-proven weed-management practices that lessen the impact of resistant weeds and preserve current and future herbicide 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 22 bushels per acre since 1981. Average yield is now at 52 bushels per acre.
  • About 25 percent of the soybean research funded at land-grant universities and other public institutions is funded by the checkoff.
  • More than 30 percent of USB research dollars goes to students and post-doctoral fellows.

Other Resources