Wallaces Farmer

New soy-based asphalt “floor” to provide a more pleasant environment for farmers exploring new tools.

Willie Vogt

August 4, 2022

3 Min Read
asphalt road uses soybean oil as a biopolymer
NEW SURFACE: This stretch of asphalt uses soybean oil as a biopolymer. The technology was developed by Iowa State University through the support of the Iowa Soybean Association. A similar product will be a new “floor” for the Varied Industries Tent at the 2022 Farm Progress Show.Ryan Bergman

A walk through an outdoor farm show is an informative experience, but it can sometimes mean switches in “terrain” from gravel to grass to wood chips to concrete. It’s part of the experience. But when attending the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, visitors will have a different experience at the Varied Industries Tent with a new asphalt base.

A new 600-by-60-foot asphalt pad will greet visitors to the 2022 show, but this is not “everyday asphalt.” The product uses soy and is sponsored by the Iowa Soybean Association.

“Infrastructure and demand are two priorities for Iowa soybean farmers,” says Robb Ewoldt, Iowa Soybean Association president. “The use of soy-based asphalt will not only improve the capabilities and usability of the Central Iowa Expo grounds, but showcase the many applications for soy.”

Ewoldt, who farms near Davenport, says ISA has invested in research and technology to make soy-based asphalt a reality.

“We’re excited to bring it to the Central Iowa Expo grounds to improve its use for patrons and vendors,” he says.

“We’re creating an enhanced experience for visitors attending the show by upgrading the VIT area with this asphalt,” show manager Matt Jungmann says. “Farmers and exhibitors will find this new surface creates a better environment for the show.”

Building on research

The paving project is an extension of Iowa State University Research formulating high-oleic soybean oil to replace other expensive, highly volatile compounds used as a binder in the creation of asphalt products. That research was funded by the Iowa Soybean Association.

“Iowa Soybean Association is driven to deliver greater production, demand and profitability for Iowa’s 40,000 soybean farmers,” Ewoldt says. “Soy’s incorporation in asphalt enhances the product’s durability and longevity, and reduces maintenance costs.

“It also increases demand for soybean oil, enhances environmental quality and provides the Central Iowa Expo greater flexibility in the events it attracts and hosts.”

Biopolymer asphalt has been used in various projects throughout Iowa and more are slated in other states.

Research and testing on the biopolymer product continues as ISU pushes the product toward commercialization. About two-thirds of the potential market for the soy-based product is public, including roads maintained by the state’s department of transportation.

“We’re excited to bring this new technology to the Farm Progress Show,” says Don Tourte, a senior vice president at Farm Progress. “Any way we can improve the site for visitors and exhibitors while also encouraging new uses for our farmers’ crops creates benefits for everyone.”

Ewoldt says the project is a win-win for Iowa soybean farmers, Central Iowa Expo and the Farm Progress Show. “Featuring soy in such a prominent location will advance awareness and understanding of the product’s versatility and benefits, while making the expo grounds more usable and accessible for guests for years and decades to come,” he says.

Recycling part of project

The material used in the project is a cold-in-place technology. It will use 100% recycled asphalt pavement mixed with the soybean-based product.

The soy-based asphalt project will encompass nearly 36,000 square feet and use 3,500 pounds of soybean oil. Each bushel of soybeans yields about 10.7 pounds of oil. Oil derived from up to 327 bushels of soybeans was used in the project.

The specific amount of oil used in any asphalt project varies by the quality of  the reclaimed asphalt pavement, its moisture content and the desired final density of the pavement.

About the Author(s)

Willie Vogt

Willie Vogt has been covering agricultural technology for more than 40 years, with most of that time as editorial director for Farm Progress. He is passionate about helping farmers better understand how technology can help them succeed, when appropriately applied.

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