The Nebraska Soybean Board is investing $3 million to create the first Presidential Chair in Soybean Breeding at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Dr. George Graef, soybean breeder in UNL's Agronomy and Horticulture department, will be the first to hold the chair. The endowment provides support for Graef's program, which aims to improve yield and develop new soybean traits for farmers in Nebraska and other growers worldwide.
The endowment is funded from the proceeds of a recent license agreement. In May, NUtech Ventures, the technology commercialization arm of the University of Nebraska, signed a non-exclusive license agreement with Bayer CropScience. The license gives Bayer access to UNL's soybean germplasm, the genetic material used to develop new soybean varieties.
For the past 25 years, the Nebraska Soybean Board provided research funding to help build UNL's soybean breeding program. As a result of this support, they received a share of the royalties from the license to BCS, which they have decided to reinvest in the soybean breeding program.
"The non-exclusive agreement with Bayer Crop Science is generous in recognizing the needs and encouraging the broader benefits to University programs, Nebraska, and the industry as a whole," says Graef. "I feel honored to be involved in this and excited about what we will achieve. It is with that support from the soybean growers through the Nebraska Soybean Board that we have been able to develop the high-quality soybean breeding program that we have."
Greg Greving, soybean board chairman, says he is excited about the future of the soybean breeding program. "This is a huge success story for the Nebraska Soybean Board's checkoff investments in the soybean breeding program at UNL. The Nebraska Soybean Board is proud to have played a key role in developing future soybean varieties for the farmers they represent. "
Lisa Lunz, chairman of the board's Research Committee, says she is pleased by the results of the initial investment and is looking forward to more good things to come. "We are excited that our investment in new varieties will return real benefits to Nebraska soybean farmers. We feel that by investing money in a Presidential Chair, UNL will continue to have an exceptional soybean program."
In addition to improving yield and developing new traits, the collaborative work will also provide additional resources and research experience for graduate and undergraduate students to better address future needs of the farmers through breeding high yielding and stress tolerant soybean varieties.