Purdue University is establishing a center that will combine the broad-based expertise of dozens of faculty and staff members coordinating research, Extension and education to advance the production and use of soybeans.
Plans for the Purdue University Soybean Center were announced Aug. 8 during a news conference on the Indiana State Fairgrounds in the Indiana Soybean Alliance building, the Glass Barn, as part of Purdue Day during the state fair.
Purdue's work with the soybean industry is important because soybeans are a major crop in Indiana, where farmers last year produced 264.7 million bushels, fourth highest in the nation, on 5.2 million acres. This year, Indiana farmers planted 5.5 million acres in soybean.
The Soybean Center will formally begin operations in the fall. Marshall Martin, senior associate director of agricultural research, assistant dean of agriculture, and a professor of agricultural economics, was appointed as the center's founding director for two years.
"Dr. Martin has deep connections with the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana soybean farmers, and a comprehensive understanding of Purdue's work on soybean," said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture. "He brings exceptional administrative skills to the role and will be key to helping launch the center successfully."
Martin's immediate focus will be to consult with faculty and staff members and representatives of the soybean industry in developing a strategic plan for research and Extension that engages Purdue faculty and staff in key issues of the soybean "value chain." That includes food for a fast-growing world population and feed for animals as well as other uses such as biofuels and industrial uses.
That value chain, Martin noted, links research in such areas as animal and human nutrition sciences; food science; aquaculture; plant pathology; economics; engineering; genetics and breeding; agronomic production practices; and entomology.
"With more than 40 faculty and staff members at Purdue whose work in some way involves soybeans, we are pooling our resources to help tackle some of the complex challenges affecting the efficiency and profitability of the soybean industry as well as the food nutrition needs of the public," Martin said.
The center also will enhance internships for Purdue students, he said.
A major component of the center's activities will be the involvement of the soybean industry.
"The creation of the Purdue Soybean Center will allow us to build upon the solid working relationship the Indiana Soybean Alliance has with the university and expand our opportunities to collaborate on important issues affecting our farmers and the entire soybean industry," said Jane Ade Stevens, CEO of the alliance.
Added David Lowe, the alliance's president: "Bringing together all of the faculty whose work touches on soybeans under one umbrella will allow us to ensure that our checkoff investments at Purdue are used efficiently and in the best interest of Indiana soybean farmers."