Palmer amaranth found in Douglas County

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture confirmed last Friday a new Palmer amaranth find in Douglas County. The invasive weed has now been detected in four Minnesota counties: Douglas, Lyon, Todd, and Yellow Medicine.

The Douglas County infestation was found through MDA’s investigation into a Palmer amaranth find in Todd County. That investigation is still ongoing as the Department searches for the source of the weed seed. Read more

Invasive species

Farmer water quality workshops set

Houston Engineering, MSR&PC team up on WRAPs meetings

The Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council and Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI) are teaming up on a series of four Water Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) Workshops in watersheds scheduled for a WRAPS or pollution-reduction plan. The workshops will allow farmers to get a better understanding of the WRAPS and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process and how to have a positive impact on the outcomes of these processes.


The Clean Water Act (CWA) was enacted to attain “fishable and swimmable” waters, create a basic structure for managing pollution entering public waters, and set standards for water quality conditions. Different laws and requirements were born from the CWA, including TMDL and WRAPS. A TDML is a state process that sets a pollution diet for waters. A WRAPS is a document containing the strategies developed by local leaders and farmers to make progress towards achieving or keeping pollution diets. During the development of WRAPS, landowners and farmers are given the opportunity to help develop these strategies.

To learn more about how to be involved in a water-quality process that directly impacts farmers, join us at one of the following sessions:

Nov. 28-Melrose
Dec. 7-Redwood Falls
Dec. 8-Madison
Dec. 19-St. James



Tools of the Trade: dicamba update

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced changes to the label of the three dicamba herbicides labeled for use on dicamba tolerant soybeans. 

Monsanto representatives released a general summary of the voluntary label updates and amplifications for Xtendimax with VaporGrip® Technology. DuPont and BASF representatives provided links to the new labels for Fexapan® and Engenia®.

Read more

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt backs off biodiesel cuts in RFS

In a letter addressed to seven U.S. senators on Oct. 19, U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced two important biodiesel-related developments in the ongoing rulemaking for the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Pruitt noted that while it would be inappropriate for the agency to prejudge the outcome of the final rule for 2018-’19 volumes, he wrote, “Preliminary analysis suggests that all of the final [renewable volume obligations (RVOs)] should be set at amounts that are equal to or greater than the proposed amounts, including at least 2.1 billion gallons for biomass-based diesel in 2018 and 2019.” Read more

Ford celebrates a decade of soybean-based seats

Ten years ago, the 2008 Ford Mustang launched with seats made of soybean-based foam. Today, soy foam has saved over 228 million pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere; the same as would be consumed by four million trees per year, according to a consumer horticulturist at North Carolina State University.

Ford has used soy foam since the Mustang went into production in late 2007, replacing traditional petroleum-based foam that most industries use. Researching and testing renewable, plant-based alternatives to petroleum-based plastics is something Ford has been committed to since 2000. 

“From our labs to our suppliers, incorporating renewable materials into auto parts takes a lot of work, but it’s the right thing to do,” said Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “At Ford, we want to do our part to reduce our impact on the environment, and using more sustainable materials in the vehicle is one of the ways we are doing this.” 

Since 2011, every Ford vehicle built in North America uses the soy foam in seat cushions, backs and headrests. It meets the company’s strict requirements as a renewable solution and doesn’t compromise durability and performance. Over the past decade, approximately 18.5 million vehicles have been produced with soy foam in them – that’s over 578 billion bushels of soybeans. 

Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, has been leading the sustainable materials effort from the beginning, and said it wasn’t easy convincing suppliers to do molding trials; especially when petroleum oil prices were available at a low cost. The United Soybean Board (USB) – a group that oversees investments in soybean innovations nationwide – played an integral role in funding the initial trials, and Bill Ford kept the project moving through all obstacles.

“We may not have ever gone to market with soy foam if Bill Ford had not been at the helm,” Mielewski said. “It was a project that would only move forward with both a visionary and an environmentalist in the driver’s seat, so to speak, and we were lucky to have him there.”

In 2008, when oil prices skyrocketed, the value of soy foam became widely apparent – not only was replacing petroleum-based polyol with soy beneficial to the environment, it could also save the company money.

Mike Youngerberg, Minnesota Soybean’s senior director of development and commercialization, praised Ford Motor Company for playing the checkoff long game. 

“Ford taking this product to commercialization is a prime example of the soybean checkoff in action,” Youngerberg says. “It’s a value-added product for soybeans. Because of checkoff investments, a product was created that went through the research at the national level. Ford then took this product and has innovatived it for the long haul.” 

Ford worked tirelessly with other industries to help them formulate foams that met their specific requirements, like agriculture, furniture and home goods, allowing them the chance to also incorporate it into their products – stretching the environmental benefits even further. 

“We knew that putting farm materials into a performance car like the Mustang could be met with a lot of skepticism,” said Mielewski. “But we also knew that if we succeeded, the foam we created could, over time, make a positive impact.”

After the success of soy foam, Ford began the development of other renewable materials to reinforce plastics in vehicles, including wheat straw, rice hulls and cellulose fibers from sustainably grown trees, coconut fibers and kenaf. The sustainable materials research team is currently working on approximately 20 other unlikely sustainable candidates for auto parts – tomato peels, agave fiber (tequila), recycled U.S. currency, dandelions and algae to name a few. They continue to work with USB to develop soy-based materials for rubber components like tires and gaskets. 

“Soy foam was an important first step, but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Mielewski. “There are many more opportunities arising to reduce our environmental impact, and with resources becoming more constrained, it becomes more important that we explore them.” 

Soybean Business: Teachable moments

This story was first featured in the September-October 2017 issue of Soybean Business. Click here to view the digital version.

For more than 30 years, one innovative program has used a unique approach to increase the connection people have to agriculture, beginning at an early age. 

The Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC) program was established in 1985 as a unique public/private partnership between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the state’s agricultural and educational communities. MAITC’s goal is to improve student achievement by applying agricultural-based content to teach core curriculum such as science, social studies, language arts and nutrition. 

Read more


First set of winners announced for DieselSellerz sweepstakes

The first set of winners for the DieselSellerz sweepstakes have been announced. Each winner has been notified and are still eligible to win* a private meet-and-greet with the stars of Discovery’s Diesel Brothers at the 2018 MN Ag Expo in Mankato

The first set of winners include:  Read more

todd county

MDA: Palmer amaranth found in Todd County

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has confirmed a new Palmer amaranth infestation in a conservation planting – this time in Todd County.

The MDA is investigating where the Palmer amaranth seed came from; however, officials believe the weed is limited to specific planting sites.

“There are several factors working in our favor that lead us to believe we can find, control, and eliminate this new Palmer amaranth find,” said Geir Friisoe, MDA’s Director of Plant Protection. “The Todd County planting was seeded in late June; and with our cold overnight temperatures earlier this week, it’s unlikely there is any viable seed on the plants. Also, thanks to local officials who were on the lookout for Palmer and notified us immediately, we were able to quickly find and identify the Palmer, and make a plan for eradication.” Read more

al franken

MSGA talks value added products, biodiesel at Franken round table discussion

Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) called on the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and the Minnesota Biodiesel Council to join other key players Wednesday at the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus to discuss renewable energy policies for the upcoming farm bill.

The main objective of the round table discussion was to give Franken feedback on his current bill and learn more about current research and opportunities pertaining to renewable energy, fuel and value-added ag products.  Read more

soybean partnership

Dow, ADM announce Enlist E3 partnership

Minnesota farmers will have access to Enlist E3 soybeans for 2018 planting through an agreement between Dow AgroSciences and ADM.

That’s because the two companies announced a collaboration Oct. 11 that features a closed-loop system. Growers will be able to raise Enlist E3 soybeans and will deliver production only to specific locations where beans will be segregated and used solely within North America.

This is significant for Minnesota soybean farmers because Mankato has been named as one of the locations that would process the soybeans. This would keep the beans out of export channels, which would be important in cases where the technology hasn’t been approved for importation by some key U.S. soybean customers, including China. Read more