Ohio Soybean Council’s director of research and education Tom Fontana introduced Ag Biotech Academy workshop participants to two Ohio soybean farmers. They shared about their work and the decisions they make as part of that work.
Nathan Eckel farms 2000 acres in northwest Ohio near BGSU with his two brothers. Their farm operation includes 700 head of cattle. Eckel, a fifth-generation farmer, said his biggest challenge is losing farmland to urban sprawl.
Scott Metzger is a sixth-generation grain farmer in south-central Ohio near Chillicothe. He farms with three cousins, growing corn, soybeans, wheat, and barley. This year, his soybeans are all non-GMO beans because he can earn more for that type, which will go to the Asian market. Eckel said there isn’t a premium for non-GMO beans in his area. “Most of our beans go to the crusher at ADM for oil.”
Both farmers are working to protect the environment and promote sustainability on their farms. Eckel farms in the Lake Erie basin, an area dealing with algal blooms, so he tills as little as possible. “We’re trying to do our part here for the lake, and less tillage means less run-off and erosion of the soil.” He applies manure to his fields, which has helped cut back fertilizer use and costs. Metzger uses cover crops to decrease soil compaction and keep soil in place after big rainfall events.
“We want to leave the farm better for the next generation,” Metzger said. Both men have seen improvements in soil health due to new methods of farming. “We’re trying new things all the time, and some of them work and some don’t…I’m doing science every day,” said Eckel.
Fontana finished the discussion by sharing about the many uses of soybeans. Meal from the bean goes to feed animals, mostly chickens and pigs. Oil is used to produce vegetable oil for food use and biodiesel as a replacement for petroleum fuel. The Ohio Soybean Council has invested in research over the last 25 years to develop new products:
- soy plastics used in many applications, including flip-flops
- soy-based foam for car seats
- soy insulation
- soy plasticizer used to make PVC
- astroturf, carpet backing, polyols for floor coatings and paint
- RoofMax rejuvenates roofing shingles for 5-10 extra years
Watch for our upcoming new career video on bioproducts!