A team of Purdue University students earned the top prize in the 2021 Student Soybean Innovation Competition for developing a unique product designed to enhance plant growth. Their soy-based, liquid stimulate helps crops grown in vertical farms germinate rapidly, achieve greater plant mass and yield, and improve nutrient uptake. Unlike a fertilizer or pesticide, it does not add nutrients like nitrogen, or repel pests.

The Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) announced the winners of the 27th annual Student Soybean Innovation Competition on March 24, 2021. They include two Purdue University sophomores, Cai Chen of Elmont, N.Y., and Nate Nauman of West Lafayette, Ind., and graduate student Emmanuel Alagbe of Ibadan, Nigeria, who will share the $20,000 top prize. The competition is sponsored by ISA and Purdue University. Participating students are asked to develop novel applications for soybeans that satisfy a market need.

“One of the major successes we saw with our product is how great it worked with lettuce we’ve grown in the greenhouse,” said Chen, who added that when the product was added to lettuce, it was 30% larger than standard lettuce.

According to the winning students, the product is unique compared to those already on the market because soy protein peptides have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties which can help prevent foodborne illnesses, such as listeria.

The 2021 competition drew seven teams composed of 22 students and 14 faculty advisors. Participating students represent a variety of majors including food science, engineering, animal science and finance. To learn more about the program and the other winning teams, visit: https://www.indianasoybean.com/press-releases/soy-based-biostimulant-wins-student-soybean-innovation-competition