Northern European Feed Industry Contacts Witness Sustainable Soybean Production Firsthand

By - Monday, September 17, 2018

In conjunction with the 2018 U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange and Midwest Specialty Grains Conference & Tradeshow in Kansas City, several feed industry contacts from Ireland, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Germany recently visited two Missouri soybean farms to learn more about sustainable soybeans and to witness firsthand the conservation and production practices that are fundamental components of the U.S. Sustainable Soy Assurance Protocol (SSAP).

In close cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) office in St. Joseph, Missouri, the group visited the farms of Darrin Furbeck in Dearborn, Mo. and Danny Linville in Faucett, Mo. Both operations are mid-sized, family operated, and have been no-till since the early 1990s.

Both farms have adopted the use of cover crops and are pleased with the results. The Furbecks had recently applied ryegrass, radish, and turnip seeds by helicopter and were waiting for the plants to emerge. The cover crops are valuable for their contribution to soil health, as their roots grow deep, helping soil structure and increasing organic matter. This can help reduce diseases in corn and soybeans, improves the balance of fungi and bacteria in the soil, and leads to more earthworms, which aid porosity and rainfall infiltration.

The conversations and discussions covered many issues from trade disputes, the use of GM seed, marketing and the challenges of succession planning. Joe Connolly of Red Mills in Ireland said “while it was very impressive to see the scale of soybean production in Missouri, it was equally impressive to see the producers’ commitment to the land and the principles of sustainability.”