Soybean Research Principal Investigator Profile – Nicole Fiorellino

Why did you decide to pursue a career that includes soybean research?
Even as an undergraduate student, I enjoyed the idea of doing applied research that means something to people. I learned that I love extension. I come to farmers, like the Maryland Soybean Board, with an idea, but I leave with tweaks and adjustments to that idea that make it more applicable to them. I love providing answers like that for farmers. Soybeans are a very intriguing plant. The more I learn about them, the less I know. They are an important part of crop rotations in Maryland, and I am excited to figure out how to make that system a little bit better. I think soybeans offer more potential for improvement within the system than other crops. 

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 planting date research I am working on should have an impact on farmers, but we are still working on it to learn more. I expect that what we eventually learn will help farmers think about optimizing their rotation and overall agronomic systems. I think information about planting dates will help farmers shift to be more resilient, especially as climate patterns change.

How has the soybean checkoff enhanced your ability to find answers to production problems for farmers?
The soy checkoff is extremely crucial to my work. As a tenure-track researcher at a university, I am required to secure federal funding for research. But it is difficult to garner that type of funding for research that is local and relevant to farmers, but limited in scope. The checkoff allows me to work on answering practical, locally relevant production questions.

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 pay attention to the cost of production and their entire rotation. They should make decisions for the whole rotation and agronomic system. Thinking through the profitability of their entire system will help them optimize the most valuable part of their rotation. 

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?
In Maryland, I think we should consider research on irrigated soybeans, rather than just saving that investment for corn, especially given our nutrient management restrictions. I also think we need to investigate “yield promiser” products as they become available to farmers to see what is happening.