Staying connected with our research partners is one of our main objectives at the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA). Good relationships between the staff and researchers means the research findings from checkoff funded projects can be communicated quickly back to farmers. In this update, we present progress reports from four distinct research initiatives conducted in collaboration with Southern Illinois University and the University of Illinois. 

Benchmarking and Integrating Soil Health, Water Quality and Climate-Smart Footprints of Illinois Soybeans 

 Natacha de Gracias Fuentes, Research Technician working under the guidance of Dr. Andrew Margenot, Associate Professor at University of Illinois, is pictured here using a portable gas analyzer to take greenhouse gas measurements in Monmouth, IL, as part of an ISA checkoff funded study. This research seeks to identify and deliver sustainability benchmarks customized for our state’s diverse soybean production systems. Farmers will have a clearer view of how tillage and cover cropping practices interact across the different soil and climate regions of Illinois. This will give them insights into the potential trade-offs between soil health and yield based on tillage and cover crop practices, as well as understand when it makes economic sense to take advantage of carbon credit programs. 

ISA is also passionate about supporting the next generation of ag leaders. Heidi Allen Asensio, a PhD student advised by Dr. Andrew Margenot, presented on ISA funded research at the Monmouth Field Day in July. She explained the project to those in attendance and addressed their questions.  

Soybean Stem Pests: Survey, Impact and Education 

Dectes stem borer is one of several pests being monitored through the ISA funded Soybean Stem Pests project, a collaboration among researchers from University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University. Dr. Nick Seiter, Assistant Professor, Field Crops Entomologist at University of Illinois, has found the highest population densities of dectes stem borer to be located in south-central IL. Kelly Estes, University of Illinois State Ag Pest Survey Coordinator, has collected observations of adults throughout Illinois, with the highest numbers generally found in southern Illinois. Have you seen this pest in your area? 

Assessing the Impact of Cover Crops on SCN Populations in Field Conditions 

Southern Illinois University researcher and Professor of Plant Pathology, Dr. Jason Bond, provides observations on soybean cyst nematode. “Fields infested with SCN continue to show high levels of reproduction on resistant varieties. This year we have observed root systems of resistant varieties with over 200 females as soon as 45 days after planting and throughout the season,” says Bond. “Farmers need to assess their fields and continue to ask their seed providers for varieties with new sources of resistance.” 

Learn more about this project through this YouTube video. 

Southern Illinois University undergraduate student, Olivia Proctor, and high school student, Hayden Lees, assisted researchers at SIU this year on this ISA funded project. Perhaps in a few years these two could be agronomists checking your fields, or researchers studying the next impactful soybean pest. ISA is proud to support research that not only provides solutions for farmers, but also trains the next generation. 

Students are also practicing their communication skills through public relations. Southern Illinois University PhD student, Vitor Schwan, recently gave a presentation to high school students on this study. We love to see students getting to learn about one of the greatest soybean pests and how researchers are seeking innovative solutions to combat it. 

Adaptive Management for Maximizing Soybean Production Following Cereal Rye Termination 

How is soil N and S uptake by soybeans influenced by a preceding cereal rye cover crop? Dr. Giovani Preza Fontes, Dr. Shalamar Armstrong, and Dr. Shaun Casteel are collaborating to answer this question and more in an ISA funded research study. Year 1 of the project is wrapping up with harvest, and data analysis will begin over the winter. Stay tuned! 


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About the Author: Jennifer Jones

​As Research Agronomist for the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), Jennifer Jones works on behalf of Illinois soybean farmers in the development and the implementation of conservation agricultural research and outreach programs. She supports research efforts and helps communicate both in-field and edge-of-field research and validation studies to ISA’s farmer audiences; leads demonstration of conservation agriculture practices; and raises awareness of best management and continuous improvement practices for conservation agriculture in Illinois. Contact Jennifer at

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