Soybean Research Principal Investigator Profile – Lisa Fultz
Lisa Fultz, Associate Professor, School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, Louisiana State University AgCenter
Why did you decide to pursue a career that includes soybean research?
I am a classically trained soil scientist, with a focus on soil microbiology. I find soybeans fascinating to work with because of their ability to make relationships with soil biota.
What research topic have you completed in the past or are working on now that could have or has had the most significant impact on soybean production?
The ongoing, long-term research projects I work on are the focal point for leveraging additional support for conservation and cover crop research. Because we have years of research, we can answer farmers’ questions or develop research that will answer them. More farmers are expressing interest in cover crops because of our early research.
How has the soybean checkoff enhanced your ability to find answers to production problems for farmers?
The Louisiana Soybean and Grain Research and Promotion Board is open to a wide range of research. I am not a traditional agronomist. Instead, my research focuses on conservation practices and their potential to improve soil health and quality. The soy checkoff supports research like mine to find answers to practical questions farmers have about those conservation practices and their value.
Within your area of expertise, what are the top two or three general recommendations you would offer farmers to improve their management practices?
- Farmers should allow some type of growth in their fields over the winter, whether that be cover crops or even winter weeds. That ground cover protects the soil and feeds the microbial community to support nutrient cycling.
- Limiting soil disturbance when possible both reduces trips through the field and causes less disturbance to the soil biota, supporting better soil health.
Within your area of expertise, what do you consider to be critical soybean research needs that can impact the profitability of farmers in the future?
A wide range of soil amendments are becoming available to farmers, like biostimulants and seed inoculants that claim to support the soil biological communities. We need research to understand the short- and long-term impacts of these products, their potential benefits and their contributions — if any — to sustainable production.