Every farmer knows crop yield largely determines profitability.

When it comes to corn and soybean yields, corn has long had the edge. But a new effort by the soybean checkoff aims to even the score, boosting U.S. soybean yields and, in turn, the value of every acre planted to soybeans in the United States.

The United Soybean Board (USB) recently committed an unprecedented $3.5 million for research to identify and evaluate soybean genes that increase yields. The three-year project will be conducted by land-grant-university researchers throughout the soybean-growing region of the United States, including researchers at the National Soybean Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois and researchers at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

The ultimate goal is to increase soybeans’ national yield average from the current 43.6 bushels per acre to 59.5 bushels per acre by 2030. This would not only increase the profit potential of U.S. soybean farmers, but also help meet increasing global demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel. And all of the research would remain in the public domain.

“This high-impact project focused on yield is long overdue, and Illinois soybean farmers are excited to have our state involved,” says Teutopolis soybean farmer David Hartke, a USB farmer-director and member of the checkoff’s Production Research program.

“Soybean yields need to increase to get as close to corn as possible in order to prevent losing acres to corn and to ensure U.S. soybean farmers continue to meet the increasing global demand for soy.”

USB farmer-leaders serving in the checkoff’s Production Research program recently met with soybean researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.