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Ontario Grain Farmer Magazine is the flagship publication of Grain Farmers of Ontario and a source of information for our province’s grain farmers. 

Research roundup


Soy Bioproducts
Lisa McLean for Soy 20/20
Most soybean growers have heard the stories about Henry Ford’s enthusiasm for soybeans.


Ford famously championed soy — along with wheat, flax, and other crops — in the development of auto parts, including plastics and paints.

But those products were not without their drawbacks: automotive paint enamels and coatings, for example, offered poor durability, limited colour options, and took several days to set.

Rick Heggs, senior marketing manager with Battelle, the world’s largest non-profit research and development organization, counts Ford’s early forays into bio-product development as part of an era he calls “version 1.0” — when it was still fairly routine for industry to develop agricultural products for industrial uses.

“Everything prior to 1860 was based on bioproducts,” Heggs says. “Then the age of petrochemicals began and bioproducts lost their lustre. We started switching from natural products to synthetic products.”

According to Heggs, the petrochemical revolution brought some unexpected benefits for bio-products too: scientists developed a stronger knowledge of synthetic organic chemistry.

“Now, in bio-products ‘version 2.0’ we’re applying those tools and techniques to natural products to modify them for industrial use,” Heggs said. “Many times we are replacing the functionality of a petrochemical but we’re not providing the exact same molecule. We look for functionality rather than identical substitution.”

Heggs said today, only about two per cent of industrial chemicals are derived from renewables, with the remaining 98 per cent derived from fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, or oil.

He sees big opportunities for chemicals from renewables, predicting a fivefold increase in that market share by 2020, and as much as a 50 per cent increase by 2050.

As the world’s largest lab-for-hire, Battelle has a mandate to bring business and scientific interests together for positive change. This includes working with Soy 20/20, an industry organization with a goal to encourage and expand new market opportunities for Canadian soybeans.

“New high oleic soybean varieties significantly improve performance of soybean oil and will play an important role in opening new market applications for Canadian growers,” said Rob Roe, bio-product commercialization director with Soy 20/20. “We’re seeing a lot of interest from industry in these varieties for food processing and industrial applications.”

Heggs said that with a variety of feedstocks and a good understanding of the differences in the fatty acid profiles of different oils, scientists are able to take oils as a feedstock and transition them to desired industrial products.

Heggs said Battelle recognizes there are sensitivities around using crops that are grown for food, and the company works within the confines of the food industry’s requirements.

He said commodity soybean oil is quite different from oil produced by selected breeding, and echoed a strong interest in genetically modified (GM) soybeans and the focus on oleic oils.

“Obviously it has to be cost-competitive and it has to be available,” Heggs said. “Study after study has shown there is little to no green premium in the marketplace. So we have to be competitive both on performance and cost to be successful.” •

Crop Protection Network publications update
The Crop Protection Network has developed a series of Soybean Disease Management and Scouting Card publications to help growers in Ontario and the U.S. to combat emerging and endemic disease problems in their fields. The Network is a multi-state and international collaboration of university and Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs provincial extension specialists which provides unbiased, research-based information to farmers and agricultural personnel. The CPN avoids duplicating materials as well as providing a consistent approach to disease IPM management– ONE VOICE, ONE MESSAGE!

In November 2015, the group’s publications were recognized by the American Society of Agronomy at their annual meeting in Minneapolis with the 2015 Extension Education Community Educational Materials Award.

There are two new sudden death syndrome resources available in addition to other CPN publications in the Soybean Disease Series deal with white mould, stem canker, soybean vein necrosis virus, pod and stem blight, and others. Scouting Cards have also been developed for: Scouting for Soybean Stem Diseases, Scouting for Soybean seedling Diseases and Disorders and Scouting for Common Soybean Seed Diseases.

To see all materials and download the ones you want, visit Production/Production-Resources. •


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