On-farm Organic Soybean Variety Trials

2014 Annual Report for LNC12-344

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2012: $199,153.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Robert Battel
MSU Extension
Daniel Rossman
Michigan State University Extension

On-farm Organic Soybean Variety Trials


Dan Rossman, MSU Extension educator from Gratiot County retired in July, 2014. Dan has been replaced on the project by Bob Battel, Extension educator from Huron county. Bob has extensive experience with soybean variety trials and is located in close proximity to major organic soybean producers in Michigan. Dan has agreed to continue to support the project on an as needed basis to help with this transition.

Objectives/Performance Targets

In 2014, we again established four organic non-GMO soybean variety trials across Michigan. Three organically certified farms and organically certified MSU/W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) ground were used to plant 52 soybean varieties in a randomized complete block design with four replications. Due to the unusual growing season, trials were planted late. Harvest has also been delayed this year due to fall weather. The KBS plots have been harvested and the on-farm plots are anticipated to be harvest in the next two weeks.

The high level of moisture this year resulted in white mold development in one of the trial locations. This has provided us with the opportunity to evaluate white mold resistance in the varieties being tested. Dechun Wang, MSU soybean beeder and his team have completed this evaluation and the results will be reported with the other data this year.


Three varieties from the first two years of the study produced promising yield, protein content and oil content results. One variety each has been selected by three seed dealers (Zeeland Farm Services, DKB Seeds and Organic Bean and Grain) for advancement towards supply. Foundation stocks have been produced for these varieties in 2014. This moves us closer to the desired outcome for this project of providing improved varieties and expanding the options for organic soybean producers.

Data from the varieties at each location, including yield, protein content, oil content, maturity and lodging, will be analyze and summarized for publication. A fact sheet of our results will be produced. With three years of trial data, multi-year comparisons of the varieties in trials will be included in this year’s fact sheet. The fact sheet will be forwarded to the Ceres Trust upon completion.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

One hundred printed copies of the 2013 Organic Variety Trials factsheet were distributed during winter meetings in 2014. The 2012 and 2013 factsheets are also available on the web at http://www.covercrops.msu.edu/organic/ index.html.

The farmer/industry advisory board for the project met on February, 25, 2014. Results from the previous two years of the trials were presented and reviewed. The direction of the project for 2014 was set in this meeting.

The project was presented and the plots in Tuscola County were toured during the Organic Farmers of Michigan Summer Crop Tour on August 26, 2014. This event hosted 30 attendees including Extension educators, researchers, agri-business representatives and organic farmers. A field day/tour was conducted on September 25, 2014 for Michigan organic farmers. This event provided an opportunity for organic farmers to visit each of the trial sites and evaluate the varieties being tested. The field day/tour culminated at the Tuscola County site with lunch and discussions between the project team, including MSU’s soybean breeder—Dechun Wang, and organic farmers on observations about the varieties tested.

The project was presented at the 2014 NCR-SARE Farmers Forum, held in conjunction with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) Conference. A video recording of this can be viewed online through NCR-SARE’s YouTube channel at: https://youtu.be/dhASNwYGjjM?list=PLQLK9r1ZBhhGr9RLwfvRvJLEtHJOLdXZz

The 2014 fact sheet will distributed to farmers across the state at MSU Extension winter meetings in 2015. The fact sheet will also be available on the website containing fact sheets from the previous years of the study.


Dr. Dechun Wang

Associate Professor
Crop & Soil Science, MSU
A384E Plant and Soil Science Building
1066 Bogue Street
East Lansing, MI 48824
Office Phone: 5173552071