"Always Earth Day for U.S. Soy!" as Farmers Lead Sustainability & ConservationThu, 22 Apr 2021 08:59:39 CDT
With climate in focus and public interest in environmental footprints taking a front seat, leaders worldwide are driving discussions on innovative ways to reduce emissions, save resources, and put the planet first—and many are asking, “How can agriculture be part of the solution?”
This Earth Day, we recognize how U.S. soy growers are leading when it comes to climate change solutions. Throughout the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) 100-year history, soybean farmers have taken steps to improve soil health, reduce runoff, improve water quality, and improve habitats for pollinators and other wildlife. Good stewardship, new technology, and innovative best practices allow U.S. soybean farmers to grow more food on less land using fewer resources.
“Every day is Earth Day in the agriculture industry,” said ASA President Kevin Scott, a soybean grower from South Dakota. “This planet is not only our home, but also a farmer’s office. U.S. soy growers are committed to doing more with less to contribute to the sustainability of our environment, society and economy. We continue to look toward innovative technology, partnerships, and policy to pave the way as leaders in sustainability. With the right support, like the reintroduced bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act, our growers can further cut their emissions and benefit from climate-smart practices that store more carbon in soil and trees. Farmers naturally have a strong sense of stewardship.”
The future of climate health depends on agriculture’s help, and U.S. soy farmers are taking the lead in innovative solutions by:
Fueling the Biodiesel Industry. Soybeans are a key ingredient in biodiesel, a clean-burning alternative fuel that’s reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and reducing hydrocarbon emissions. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, biodiesel reduces lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 86% compared to petroleum diesel fuel and creates 5.4 units of energy for every energy unit required to produce the fuel. Also, since soy meal can be used for animal protein while the oil can be used for alternative fuel, less of the bean is wasted and no additional land is needed for biodiesel production.
Using Precisely Enough Resources. U.S. soy growers are using precision agriculture and other new technologies like GPS, mapping and crop or soil sensors to conserve water and protect our soil and crop nutrients. This approach leverages information technology to ensure crops and soil receive exactly what they need for optimal health and productivity.
Cutting Emissions with Soy-based Products. Hundreds of soy-based products—asphalt, turf, cosmetics, seat cushions, car tires, even flip flops and sneakers—reduce reliance on petroleum-based products, curbing dependence on foreign oil and reducing GHG emissions.
Relying on Sound Science. Innovative biotechnology solutions decrease inputs needed to control weeds, insects, and other pests.
By 2025, U.S. soybean farmers are on track to:
• Reduce land use impact by 10%
• Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10%
• Reduce soil erosion by 25%
• Increase energy use efficiency by 10%
While soybean farmers have long been dedicated to implementing conservation practices, they continue to hone their practices, experiment with emerging technology, and set new goals. And, ASA rewards their best practices through grants, scholarships and knowledge-sharing networks that foster collaboration and recognize valuable on-farm practices.
ASA’s annual Conservation Legacy Awards recognize farm management practices of U.S. soybean farmers who are both environmentally friendly and profitable. The CLAs shine a light on the most progressive farmers, those who have truly embraced innovative conservation practices on their farms—like this year’s winners who are using wind and solar energy to power their operation, transitioning to strip-till and incorporating cover crops, leading by example in soil and water health, and continuing a long family legacy in conservation measures to improve sustainability on the farm.
As part of an ongoing partnership with the Walton Family Foundation, ASA awards farmers grant money to cost-share implementation of new conservation improvements to their farms.
This past year, the grant supported northeast Arkansas farmers Brad Doyle and Joyce Berger Doyle in their efforts to find cover crop solutions for Arkansas hardpan soils. It also helped the Hammer Kavazanjian family farm install a unique edge-of-field phosphorus removal from tile water system to improve water quality and benefit Wisconsin lakes and streams. And, it allowed the Winsor family farm to add drip tape irrigation to boost water use efficiency while delivering nutrients in the root zone to improve plant growth, water quality and cut fertility costs.
As consumer demand for sustainability grows both domestically and abroad, the U.S. soy industry continues making strides. ASA, along with the United Soybean Export Council (USSEC), is a founding partner of the Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP), which verifies and documents sustainable production on a national scale throughout the U.S. and demonstrates soy’s commitment to sustainability, thus increasing appeal of global customers of U.S. soy—America's #1 ag export.
Conservation and sustainability remain top priorities as U.S. soybean farmers lead the way to preserving the Earth’s resources for the future of farming and generations to come. Find out more in the Sustainability and Conservation section of soygrowers.com.
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