Steve Rogers

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Assistant News Director/Assignment Editor; degree in finance and administration from Yale University; 35 years experience in journalism.

Soybean Farmers Endow Research at MSU

STARKVILLE, Miss.–A recent Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board investment in the Edgar E. and Winifred B. Hartwig Endowed Chair in Soybean Agronomy will enhance soybean research, teaching and service at Mississippi State.

University, agriculture and agriculture industry officials said Thursday [April 18] the promotion board’s memorial to the late Edgar Hartwig, a renowned Mississippi soybean breeder, will help fund an endowed chair in MSU’s plant and soil sciences department.

“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, a Hernando soybean farmer and former Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board chairman. “This investment will benefit all soybean farmers with applied research to improve soybean production.”

The promotion board’s funding helped leverage 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 was responsible for developing many of the soybean varieties grown both in the Southern U.S. and regions around the world with similar climates.

Last year, soybean production in Mississippi set a record, 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,” said George Hopper, dean of MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “An endowed chair will sustain research, teaching and service focused on improving soybean cropping systems.”

The future of soybean research and education will include development of new varieties, integrating tillage systems, crop rotations, soil and water conservation, cover crops, pest management and sufficient plant nutrition, added Hopper, who also directs the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.

A 2007 contribution from Hartwig’s wife, Winifred, established the endowment and provided support for graduate student research at the land-grant institution. Investments from the Soybean Promotion Board and its industry partners will be added to the original fund.

“The investment from the soybean promotion board, the Hartwigs and industry supporters also will be used to recruit outstanding graduate students who will become future leaders in agriculture,” Hopper said.

With an endowed professorship, a major faculty position may be filled by a prominent researcher and professor.

Hopper said a national search for the chair holder will be conducted in coming months to hold joint appointments in both the college and experiment station.

The Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board represents farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soy checkoff on behalf of all state soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access, and supply.

For more information on the endowment, contact development officer Jud Skelton at 662-325-7000.