Study Shows Environmental Benefits of Soybeans

Cindy Zimmerman

Soybeans are better than ever for the environment, which makes soy-based products greener than ever.

usb lifecycleThat’s the findings of a new peer-reviewed life cycle profile just released by the United Soybean Board (USB) that documents multiple energy and environmental benefits of U.S. soybean farming and processing.

“This profile is the first comprehensive life cycle study covering U.S. soybean production through four major biobased products,” said Arkansas soybean farmer John Cooper, a USB Director and Member of the USB Domestic Marketing Committee. “U.S. soy already delivers environmental and energy benefits. It’s exciting to see the trends point to even more in the future.”

A key objective was to update life cycle inventory (LCI) databases for soybean production and processing as well as conversion into four key soy-derived feedstocks (methyl soyate, soy lube base stock, soy polyol, and soy resin) used in fuel and industrial products. Its cradle-to-gate scope begins with soybean farming (the cradle) and goes through processing of products (the gate).

Among the study’s key findings are that soybean production results in significant greenhouse gas reductions and that soybean yields are 12 percent higher than 10 years ago and should increase 40 percent over the next decade.

The updated data show approximately 20% less direct energy used in soybean farming due to reduced diesel and gasoline usageand soybean processing facilities reduced their energy consumption by 45% compared to 1998 data.

Soybean, USB