Soybean South

 - SPECIAL REPORT -

Check Out
Your Checkoff $$$


The Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board and the South Carolina Soybean Board discuss priority projects as examples of how farmers’ soybean checkoff
dollars are spent on the state level across the South.

By Carroll Smith

Soybean checkoff dollars – monies collected from farmers for soybean research, promotion and education. You know they are out there working for you while you’re busy working in the field, but have you kept up with some of the main focal points currently being funded on the state level?

Cliff Bice, with the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board (MSPB), says from 40 to 50 percent of Mississippi’s checkoff dollars go toward funding agricultural research projects at Mississippi State University (MSU). Another part of the checkoff dollars allows Truett Bufkin, the executive secretary for MSPB, to attend trade shows and field days where he sets up an exhibit complete with all types of promotional and educational materials in an attempt to keep farmers aware of where their money is being spent.

Bice says two major projects that were funded this year will likely be funded again next year. The first is the multi-faceted SoyBiodiesel Project, which began almost four years ago.

At the time this project was initiated, there was no production of soybiodiesel on a commercial scale in Mississippi. Today, the state boasts three commercial production facilities. North Mississippi Biodiesel, Inc. in New Albany was the first to open its doors, followed by Delta Biofuels, Inc., located in Natchez, and Scott Biodiesel Refinery, located in Greenville.

“The SoyBiodiesel Project has been a high profile work area for us,” Bice says. “We’ve moved it along pretty quickly although it’s not quite as far along as we wanted it to be at this stage because the price of soybeans jumped quite a bit after we got into it.

“However, the interest and the infrastructures that we helped establish are still there, so we will continue to promote it,” he adds. “Long-term, it will be good for the soybean industry, not only in Mississippi but also in other states where soybean production takes place as well.”

Checkoff dollars & soybiodiesel
Checkoff dollars are used in the Soybiodiesel Project to hold meetings for growers, as well as meetings for growers and prospective users. They also pay for awareness ads in print media and surveys targeting the trucking, public transportation and farming industries to determine attitudes toward and use of soybiodiesel.
“We have made contact with the trucking industry and have worked with some of the school bus transportation systems to get them to try biodiesel in their school buses,” Bice says. “The Meridian school bus system has worked closely with us in this area.”

Soybean rust monitoring
Another priority project for the MSPB for the past two years is the soybean rust situation. They have been cooperating with Mississippi State University (MSU) in a program called the Rust Monitoring Team. It is aimed at preventing damage to the crop and begins early with MSU personnel planting sentinel plots in certain areas. The sentinel plots are monitored according to the economic threshold, which warrants whether the crop needs to be sprayed. The Rust Monitoring Team serves as an early warning program for farmers and allows MSU personnel to track the movement of the disease.

“Our contribution to this program has been in helping to set up a free Rust Hot Line,” Bice says. “Anyone can call in for updates. The scouting personnel change the report as often as it needs to be.

“Also, our checkoff dollars help fund a radio program with Telsouth Communications – Missis-sippi Ag Network in the summer. We fund time with that network, which allows the scouting personnel to make at least one call-in report each week. Both of these radio programs keep farmers up to date on the rust situation. The board also sponsors MSU network baseball broadcast.

South Carolina targets resistance
In the Southeast, one of the top priorities of the South Carolina Soybean Board (SCSB) for the past two years is weed resistance to herbicides.

“North Carolina and Georgia dealt with it before we did, but now we have glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth (pigweed) all over the state,” says Aaron Wood, executive director of the South Carolina Soybean Board.

One of the new research projects that the board has agreed to fund in this area is “control of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth in soybean production systems using alternative management strategies.” The research will be conducted by Michael Marshall, Clemson University’s Edisto Research & Education Center, and David Gunter, Clemson University’s Pee Dee Research & Education Center.

Their goals are to evaluate alternative weed management programs that provide consistent control of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth and to educate and disseminate resistant management strategies to South Carolina soybean producers.

Another new research project that has received funding is the “county resistant pigweed herbicide strip tests.” This project also will be conducted by David Gunter and Michael Marshall. The goals of this project are multi-faceted:

• Evaluate weed management programs that provide consistent control of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth.

• Educate growers on alternative herbicide programs to battle glyphosate-resistant pigweed.

• Tests will be located on farms in seven counties across the coastal plain of South Carolina in fields known to have resistant pigweed.

• Different classes of herbicides with different modes of action will be utilized.

• Field days and crop tours will be encouraged to help visibility of the project.

• Results will be presented at all meetings: state, regional and county.

• Results will be made available to participating ag chemical companies.

• Tests will help growers make sound herbicide decisions on their farms.

Biodiesel promotion efforts
Wood says SCSB has invested checkoff dollars in promoting biodiesel for several years, relying on the National Biodiesel Board and the United Soybean Board to conduct the research.

“They have the resources, and that’s their area of expertise,” he says. “On the promotion side, we are in the midst of a billboard campaign across the state. We also are cooperating with North Carolina on some other projects to promote biodiesel by running a series of ads in an agricultural trade magazine.”

Judging from this overview of how soybean checkoff dollars are being spent in Mississippi and South Carolina, it appears that checkoff dollars provided by soybean farmers across the South are in good hands and being spent wisely.


Research Projects Funded By SCSB For 2008-09

In April, SCSB gets together for a budget meeting where they allot a general amount of dollars to research. Next, the board hears presentations from researchers who have followed procedure to submit proposals and then decides what proposals to fund and at what level.

Project proposals are solicited from public and private entities.

In addition to the two research projects mentioned in this article, the following projects also have received funding for 2008-09:
• Utilizing fungicide applications for Asian Soybean Rust control.
• Evaluation of elite soybean strains and cultivars for multiple-disease resistance.
• Optimizing insect management strategies for soybeans in South Carolina.
• Diagnostic DNA system for enhancement of soybean productivity in South Carolina.
• Breeding improved soybean cultivars for South Carolina.
• Evaluate planting date, row spacing and plant population on soybeans in relation to soil spatial variability.
• World initiative for soy in human health (WISHH).