The Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board (MSPB) proudly announces Ryan Edwards, doctoral student at Mississippi State University, as the recipient of the first annual T.S. Bufkin Doctoral Fellowship. MSPB created the soybean research fellowship in honor of former MSPB executive secretary Truett S. Bufkin, who served on the board from 1964-2011.

“It means a lot to me to receive this award,” Edwards says. “I am extremely thankful that the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board chose me, and I am very humbled to be the first recipient of the award. I am happy that they find my research interesting and believe it will help Mississippi soybean farmers.”

Edwards’ doctoral research will focus on the use of cover crops to reduce and shade out weed growth, specifically Palmer amaranth, a major problem for Mississippi soybean farmers. The second portion of his research will investigate how herbicides can be used in combination with cover crops to further reduce weed growth.

Edwards said Mississippi farmers currently do not have many options to control Palmer amaranth other than by spraying herbicides. He hopes that the use of cover crops with herbicides will work as a hybrid control mechanism.

The research project began in August of 2011, and Edwards expects the first phase of the study, which only looks at the use of cover crops, to be completed in the summer of 2013. He expects the second phase of the project, examining the use of a combination of cover crops and herbicides, to be completed in the summer of 2014.

Edwards received his undergraduate degree in biology and environmental science from the University of Northern Colorado and his master’s degree in weed science from Colorado State University.

Funding soybean research in Mississippi appropriately honors Bufkin’s contributions to the industry, says Jerry Slocum, MSPB board member. “He made so many contributions to the soybean industry in Mississippi. Awarding the T.S. Bufkin Doctoral Fellowship to fund research that builds on his work is the perfect way to say ‘thank you.’”

In addition to serving the MSPB for more than 40 years, Bufkin played an instrumental role in moving the board into the national soy check-off that was established in 1991. He started his career working in the extension service, helping farmers across the state, and became a pioneer in Mississippi’s soybean industry.