Soybeans and green oil

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off.

Most family farms do not last for five generations without a willingness to change and adopt new technologies. For Keith and Chad Kemp, (4th and 5th generation farmers), that technology is in all aspects of their operation. The Kemp’s grid soil sample all their fields in ½ acre grids. They utilize various seed technology platforms. They have the latest technology on their John Deere high-speed planter, and they are constantly paying attention to what is new in the industry, particularly with soybean oil.

The details matter on successful farms. It starts with well drained and healthy soil. Keith Kemp has been no-tilling for 30 years and says it all starts with good drainage. “Drainage tile is one of the most important things on our land,” said Kemp. “When we take on a new farm, the first thing I want to do is tile it before I put money into fertilizer or anything else. Even in a dry year, I think the tile pay off more than in a wet year because there is air in the soil and all the earthworms are working. The plant roots will follow those worms down to the moisture and tile lines.”

This year has been one of those dry years for the Kemps. The planting season started wet, but in late June the weather pattern turned dry, with July and Early August having very little rain. Kemp attributes their yield success this year to the use of no-till and their healthy soils, along with the advanced seed technology. “When I first started farming, we planted the corn first. Now that has changed and we put soybeans out earlier. The soybean crop sometimes seems like the more it is stressed, the better it does,” said Kemp. “The last part of our growing season was extremely dry. It was really an amazing year considering the stress that the crop went through and the yields we were able to achieve.”

Keith Kemp has been involved in commodity organizations for a number of years. It started with his days raising pure bred pigs and participating on national boards in the pork industry. Now he has served in leadership roles on the state and national level with nine years on the Ohio Soybean Council and two of those years as chairman, also serving nine years on the United Soybean Board.  Currently Keith serves here in Ohio on the committee for Airable Lab.  “Airable Labs is a venture started by the Ohio Soybean Council about three years ago. Prior to that we worked with Barry McGraw at Battelle Institute.  Barry now leads our team at Airable Labs of a handful of scientists and technicians researching new product uses for soybeans,” said Kemp. “There are efficiencies in that if we see a project is not going to work, we can get out of them quickly and not waste farmer dollars. We now have other state organizations investing with us. The Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan soybean organizations are investing with us, and Missouri is looking into it.”

Soybean Oil is now a driver in the marketplace for beans. “It is just amazing how the oil has come on board with the use for biodiesel and in aviation fuels. Everything we hear seems to be focused on ‘green initiatives’ for the environment, and I like to refer to soybean oil as the new ‘green oil’ because that resonates with consumers,” said Kemp. “It is amazing to consider all the new soybean oil processing facilities are being built from North Dakota to here in Ohio. It all goes back to the investments of farmers with their check-off dollars.”

Another area that has seen a virtual explosion is in the High-oleic soybean oil market. “It started about ten years ago when I was first on the United Soybean Board and we invested into the high-oleic oils program with check-off dollars. It has been a long haul and took a lot of patience,” said Kemp. “Now all the sudden the new uses are dynamic. For the last 8-9 years, there has always been a market for the high-oleic oil, but it took some time to get our big break. It really helped us when Frito-Lay™ came on board and started using our product. That has opened the door to other companies and now industrial uses are also expanding.”

Those soybean check-off investments are leading to greater profit opportunities for farmers. “The premium being paid for Plenish® high-oleic soybeans to farmers was really good this year and is expected to be even better in 2023,” said Kemp. “My son Chad told me that with that kind of premium our soybeans will be 100% Plenish® high-oleic soybeans next year.”

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