As the nation’s largest outdoor farm event, the annual Farm Progress Show connects thousands of farmers with companies innovating the future of agriculture. Now, a collaborative project to improve the show’s experience for visitors and vendors highlights critical checkoff investments in the research and development of soy-based technologies.
The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), in partnership with Iowa State University (ISU) and the Farm Progress Show, announce the completion of a large-scale, soy-based asphalt project at the heart of the Central Iowa Expo Grounds near Boone. Sponsored by ISA, the 42,560 square foot asphalt base showcases the versatility of homegrown soybeans and research advancements toward its’ use.
“Infrastructure and demand are two priorities for Iowa soybean farmers,” says Robb Ewoldt, ISA president and soybean farmer from Davenport. “Soy’s incorporation in asphalt enhances the product’s durability and longevity and reduces maintenance costs. It also increases demand for soybean oil, improves the product’s environmental footprint and provides the expo grounds with greater flexibility in the events it attracts and hosts.”
Site improvements that also highlight the versatility of crops produced by Iowa farmers is a win for all, says Matt Jungmann, event director of the Farm Progress Show.
“We’re creating an enhanced experience for visitors by upgrading the Varied Industries Tent area with this asphalt. Farmers and exhibitors will find this new surface creates a better environment for the show.”
The paving project is an extension of the research conducted by Iowa State University into the formulation of high-oleic soybean oil as a replacement for other expensive, highly volatile compounds commonly used in the creation of asphalt products. Using a Cold-in-Place technology, the project combines 100% recycled asphalt pavement mixed with a soy-based polymer. In total, the construction utilizes over 2,300 lbs. of soybean oil, or 215 bushels of soybeans. On average, each soybean bushel yields nearly 10.7 lbs. of oil.
Eric Cochran, a professor at ISU’s Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering and director of the Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites, says the university’s research and testing of the bio-polymer product continues toward commercialization.
“After starting sponsored research projects in 2013, we had the momentum it required to go from laboratory-scale experiments to pilot-scale manufacturing conducted at ISU’s BioCentury Research Farm. We moved from that manufacturing facility into a full-scale chemical manufacturer last year.”
The Iowa Soybean Association is proud to have invested in the research and technology to make soy-based asphalt a reality, added Ewoldt.
“Featuring soy in such a prominent location will advance awareness and understanding of the product’s versatility and benefits, drive demand for homegrown soybeans and make the expo grounds more accessible for guests for years and decades to come.”
The Iowa Soybean Association is Driven To Deliver market demand, production research, information and insights and regulatory action benefiting Iowa's 40,000 soybean farmers and the industry. For more information, visit iasoybeans.com.