Harvesting Success at the 2024 North Carolina Regional Soybean Schools

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Attendees at the Soybean School session in Statesville, NC.

North Carolina farmers plant soybeans from the Mountains to the Coast. Providing soybean producers with opportunities to learn best management practices is a critical component of continued production success in the state. The North Carolina Soybean Producers Association and N.C. Cooperative Extension collaborated to host a series of in-depth soybean schools throughout North Carolina to jump-start a new initiative to enhance educational efforts across the state during the traditional winter meeting season. “Our goal with the regional soybean schools was to have the time to provide deep-dives into relevant production topics by featuring invited speakers bringing unique expertise to the state, NC State Extension Specialists sharing the latest best management practices recommendations, and hearing from Extension Agents on research efforts at the local level,” said Dr. Rachel Vann, NC State Soybean Extension Specialist. 

Rachel Vann presenting at the Soybean School session in Statesville, NC.

Jeff Chandler, the Research Coordinator of the NC Soybean Producers Association, was delighted to see such interactive attendees during this collaborative effort. “I took part in promoting these sessions, soliciting our speakers, and general logistics for the soybean school initiative and I was thrilled to see the positive response across the state to this new method of information delivery.” Chandler described seeing more connections being made between local farmers and the NC Soybean Producers Association. The series provided an interactive space for the farmers in attendance through panel discussions and interactive Q&A sessions. 

Jeff Chandler welcoming Attendees at Statesville, NC Soybean School session.

The attendees of the regional soybean school session in Statesville, NC were predominantly farmers from Iredell County and surrounding areas. Many of the farmers in attendance advocated for the organizers to schedule another soybean school session at their local extension office next year. They found value in having researchers from around the nation in their area, providing them with localized information about their soil types and agricultural practices. 

Jenny Carleo, an Extension Agent, presented to the attendees and expressed her enthusiasm after the session. She had the opportunity to showcase research findings to the attendees and facilitate several discussions. “As an Agent, I know about the great research being done at NC State; so I was excited to team up with my colleagues to bring this high-quality, in-depth information to our farmers,” said Jenny Carleo. She expressed fulfillment in being able to contribute to the management practices of the soybean producers in the region.

Jenny Carleo presenting at the Soybean School session in Statesville, NC.

Several of the farmers in attendance expressed pleasure in seeing their check-off dollars at work through the soybean schools. Larry Corry, of Corry Farms in Shelby, NC, heard about the soybean schools through his Extension office in Cleveland County. “These soybean schools, as well as extension, are helping local farmers to get local information that correlates the soil types in North Carolina,” Larry says. “Having sessions like this helps us think ahead and I particularly enjoyed talking about the maturity experiments. That was very helpful information and it can help optimize planting dates in our fields.”

Organizers of the Regional Soybean Schools series were dedicated to tailoring the topics and speakers at each session to each region of the state. The sessions took place in six different locations around the state of North Carolina. Andrew White, of ASR Grain Company in Shelby, NC, expressed the value he sees in research sessions like the new NC Soybean School initiative. “I’m happy I attended today to see our check-off dollars at work through research,” says Andrew. “I’m happy they just talked about soybeans, instead of trying to cover multiple crops in one day. Today was a great day of learning.”

The North Carolina Soybean Producers Association and N.C. Cooperative Extension look forward to continuing this program in 2025. These regional sessions can enhance networking opportunities, disseminate best management practices to soybean producers in a robust way, and improve the various agriculture systems of North Carolina. Videos of the Regional Soybean School sessions can be found on the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association YouTube page.