In a recently released report entitled “Plant science decadal vision 2020-2030: Reimagining the potential of plants for a healthy and sustainable future,” more than 40 plant scientists laid out their vision for addressing climate change, food insecurity, and sustainability. This broad vision for the immediate future of research in the plant sciences grew out of the Plant Summit 2019 conference, as a common vision to inspire interdisciplinary research goals to advance research, people and technology. The summit was well represented by soybean and other major crops. It was attended by several soybean researchers, a United Soybean Board (USB) representative and key members of the Tri-Societies (American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America). The overall vision is aimed at the research community including soybean researchers, scientific societies, federal and philanthropic funding agencies, entrepreneurs, and anyone interested in plant sciences, and is intended as a source of inspiration and guidance for the next 10 years.

The vision includes eight overarching goals, which go well beyond food security to address sustainability, climate change and other global issues, and fall into three broad categories. Four research goals focus on harnessing the power of plants and plant production systems, while continuing to learn more about them – including the plant microbiome and plant-organism interactions. Two goals center on people – encouraging collaboration, coordination and diversity in both scientific fields and scientists themselves, while reevaluating reward systems for scientists in these fields. The final two goals concern technology infrastructure, including developing new technologies as well as taking better advantage of the vast amount of data that has been and continues to be developed.  Each goal has a specific action plan, as well as a detailed description of the intent behind each goal. These goals mirror many efforts currently funded by the soy checkoff, including the use of predictive algorithms in soy breeding, discovering and developing novel seed composition traits and utilization of digital agriculture tools and technology.

This broad and far-reaching vision includes calls for more and coordinated funding, as well as communication and public outreach, as plant systems expand beyond just food and fiber production and into ornamental, recreational, medical and other uses. This dovetails well with the soybean checkoff’s efforts to increase demand for soybeans by supporting new uses for soybean protein and soybean oil, in biofuels, tires, shoes, asphalt, and many other areas.

This vision was released by the Plant Science Research Network (PSRN), formed in 2015 and comprised of 15 organizations and scientific societies with interests in advancing plant science research. The Decadal Vision grew out of their Plant Summit conference held at Biosphere 2 in February, 2019.

The entire 24 page white paper is available online. Click here to view.