GianCarlo Moschini, professor, led a new economic analysis that showed field trials led by Iowa State University scientists saved farmers and seed companies millions of dollars by helping them select soybean varieties resistant to a major pest.
The report found the Iowa State University SCN-Resistant Soybean Variety Trials have created a surplus of about $140 million in Iowa and Illinois between 2011 and 2016. The analysis estimates that farmers captured roughly a third of that surplus while seed companies held the rest.
The soybean cyst nematode, a microscopic roundworm that feeds on the roots of soybeans, is the greatest pathogen threat to U.S. soybean yields. Previous estimates showed the pests present in up to 70% of Iowa fields. Plant breeders have developed soybean varieties with genetic resistance to the pests, but the level of resistance and performance of these varieties can vary widely. So ISU scientists, supported by soybean checkoff funds from the Iowa Soybean Association, have conducted field trials every year since 1997 to evaluate hundreds of resistant soybean varieties. Annual reports of the results are published online at isuscntrials.info, and copies of the publications are printed and directly distributed annually to 70,000 to 90,000 households in Iowa and northern Illinois annually.
The economic analysis drew on data generated through the field trials as well as a proprietary dataset of farmers’ seed choices. That dataset included the quantity and price paid for seed of specific soybean varieties. Using economic models, Moschini and doctoral student Seungki Lee determined how willing farmers are to pay a premium for resistant soybean varieties compared to susceptible varieties.