Published 3 years ago.
About a 3 minute read.
Image: spring soybeans | Illinois Soybean Association
/ This article is sponsored by
Illinois Soybean Association.
Illinois has maintained its leadership in US soybean production for nearly a century, thanks to its climate and ongoing commitment to sustainable agriculture
and conservation best practices.
The path to a more sustainable future is in many ways like the crop that soybean
farmers plant each year. They start the spring with optimism, plant seeds for
that year’s crop in just the right window of time and weather for planting, and
then carefully monitor the crop. They try different things to help it grow,
adjust as the season changes, and remain hopeful for a bountiful harvest. When
harvest comes, they monitor crop yields and crop conditions, taking note of what
worked well and what needs improvement. Each data point and each season provide
new information that can be used for continuous improvement the following year.
In many ways, sustainability takes a similar approach and requires that each of
us tries different things to see what works and what doesn’t. We monitor the
data, we look for new solutions, we adapt to changes in our industries, and we
make short- and long-term investments that protect the assets we’ve worked to
Soybean farmers in Illinois recognize that “the wealth of Illinois lies in
her soil, and her strength lies in its intelligent development.” This quote from
Andrew Draper, who served as the president of the University of Illinois
from 1894 to 1904, is as relevant today as it was more than a century ago.
Illinois has maintained its national leadership in soybean production for nearly
a century, thanks to its climate and ongoing commitment to sustainable
agriculture and conservation best practices.
When I think of sustainability in the soybean industry, I think of programs that
help farmers remain profitable, care for the environment, find new customers for
their crops, and boost rural communities. The Illinois Soybean Association
(ISA) checkoff program is committed to helping farmers improve their
sustainable production practices.
A few years ago, we compared ISA’s programs with the United Nations’
Goals — we found several
positive links to goals such as zero hunger (SDG 2), responsible
consumption and production (SDG 12), quality education (SDG 4), and life
on land (SDG 15). But farmers do more than just adopt soil health measures and
implement other conservation practices on their farms. They also invest in
opportunities that bring value to their farms, their customers and their
Biodiesel is one of those opportunities, and it builds upon fuel technology
that has kept improving over more than 50 years. It’s made from soybeans, used
cooking oil and other renewable feedstock. And different blends can be easily
integrated into various fuel systems.
While electric vehicles have generated a lot of buzz among environmentalists,
fleets and anyone who relies on shipping or moving products can integrate
biodiesel into their sustainability efforts right now. Biodiesel increases
energy security, improves air quality and the environment — and it aligns with
the UN’s goal for affordable and clean energy (SDG 7).
The key to helping reach these goals is collaboration and teamwork. That’s why
we constantly seek opportunities to work with others to make a difference for
the soybean growers we serve and the land we care for.
For example, the B20 Club is
a partnership between the ISA and the American Lung Association of Illinois
that recognizes Illinois-based fleets that are committed to operating with fuel
that is 80 percent petroleum diesel and 20 percent biodiesel. On average, the
collective biodiesel use of the B20 Club members is 4.6 million gallons
annually, contributing to cleaner air and more sustainable operations throughout
Illinois’ verdant farmlands remain the envy of the world because farmers have
long focused on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the
Published Jul 31, 2020 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
Amy Roady is the director of outreach for the Illinois Soybean Association. She leads outreach and sustainability efforts to educate, inform and influence producers, industry stakeholders, non-profit leaders and consumers. She also maintains strong relationships with food and ag groups. Since joining ISA in 2009, Roady has been active with Center for Food Integrity, Field to Market, and U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.