Working with Modern Day Wire and Tape

I am sure there are other producers in Illinois who either remember, or have used, wire or duct tape to fix a problem on the farm. We are creative problem solvers, if nothing else.

The good news is with the expansion of technology and the infusion of investment in farm innovation, we need fewer of these short-term solutions to obtain long-term production success. We see more venture capital dollars moving into the agricultural industry to address everything from plant breeding efficiencies to equipment invention to sustainability challenges.

This issue of Soy Perspectives focuses on innovation. We hear so much about how new technology is changing our landscape, and we will continue to hear more. That is why the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) board of directors has made the topic a cornerstone priority in 2019.

In an Agrimarketing article, Mike Boehlje with Purdue University’s Center for Food and Ag Business noted, “Science and technology have become a large focal point of the food and agribusiness sectors…Biological manufacturing now allows for enhanced plant and animal growth, and technology has allowed for more precision production practices through field monitoring, measuring and sensing. Not to mention advancements in process control systems, such as reducing plant stress through high-tech irrigation or multiple applications of nitrogen…”

Boehlje adds that digitization has become a disruption within the sector. Where competitive advantage used to be primarily hard assets and physical resources, it is data and information.

So how do we get a handle on this flurry of new innovation and rapid change in our business? By first looking at the flip side. Where would agriculture and our profitability be without new technology? What lessons can we learn and apply to our future success today based on that notion? Our cover story provides some pointers for producers and industry thought leaders.

We also look at the evolution of technology, as new players enter the marketplace. Some will succeed and some will not. Some may follow unique pathways to productivity while others will rely on tried-and-true traditional routes to commercialization. We look in this issue at applying soybean cyst nematode activity to human muscle applications, expanding broadband coverage with options outside fiber optics and explore small, niche companies entering the seed space.

Innovation is more than wire and tape. I encourage readers to browse our revamped website,, for additional insights, along with other ISA priority details for the coming year.

Lynn Rohrscheib, ISA Chairwoman