SPECIAL REPORT – Industry Spotlight

Leadership, education and research all have been recognized recently
within the Southern soybean states via an endowed chair at MSU
and a new president of SSDW.
A Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board (MSPB) investment in the Edgar E. Hartwig Endowed Chair in Soybean Agronomy will enhance soybean research, teaching and service at Mississippi State University (MSU) for years to come.

Named after the late Edgar E. Hartwig, who was a renowned soybean breeder, MSPB’s investment will help fund an endowed chair in MSU’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.

“We are excited to partner with Mississippi State University, the Hartwigs and our industry partners to establish this chair focused on soybean production,” says Jimmy Sneed, soybean farmer from Hernando and former chairman of MSPB. “This investment will benefit all soybean farmers with applied research to improve soybean production.”

MSPB’s funding leveraged additional funding from industry partners Monsanto and Syngenta.

“An endowed chair is valuable to MSU and Syngenta because a commitment to research and development leads to new advancements and innovative practices in soybean production,” says Rex Wichert, head of Syngenta’s soybean portfolio. “Through university-driven research, producers and industry will have access to technologies and training that enhance soybean productivity.”

Hartwig spent 47 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Stoneville. He developed many of the soybean varieties grown in the southern United States and regions around the world with similar climates. Soybean production in Mississippi set a record in 2012, with average yields of 45 bushels per acre and value of production at more than $1 billion.

“Soybean production improves our state’s economy and environment,” says George Hopper, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. “An endowed chair will sustain research, teaching and service focused on improving soybean cropping systems,” he says.

Hopper added that the future of soybean research and education will include integrating tillage systems, crop rotations, soil and water conservation, cover crops, pest management and sufficient plant nutrition.

Search begins for chair holder

A 2007 contribution from Hartwig’s wife, Winifred, to MSU established the endowed chair and provided support for graduate student research. The investments from MSPB and its industry partners will be added to the original fund.

An endowed chair is a significant faculty position filled by a prominent researcher and professor. Mississippi State will conduct a national search for the chair holder during the coming months. The selected chair will have a joint appointment in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.

SSDW president elected

LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, Clayton Hollier, right, hands over the president’s gavel to incoming president Edward Sikora.
LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, Clayton Hollier, right, hands over the president’s gavel to incoming president Edward Sikora.

Edward Sikora, a plant pathologist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and an Auburn University professor in the Department of Entomology and Plant, recently took over as president of the Southern Soybean Disease Workers (SSDW) at their annual meeting in Pensacola, Fla.

The 40th meeting of the SSDW was held in Pensacola Beach, Fla., in conjunction with the NCERA-184 Wheat Disease Committee and NCERA-208 Soybean Rust Committee. Past president Tom Allen of Mississippi State University coordinated the local arrangements, while Sikora organized the meetings scientific program.

More than 50 people attended the SSDW event, including members representing universities, the USDA, the United Soybean Board and industry.

This year’s meeting featured presentations on important topics in the Southern soybean production system, including Sikora’s presentation on “Observations of Soybean Rust Management in Alabama” during the 2012 season. Soybean rust was a major problem for soybean producers in south Alabama last year with yield losses in unprotected fields ranging from 10 to 40 percent.

The section titled “SSDW president elected” was written by Maggie Lawrence.

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