Did You Know … All About Soybeans

— Written By and last updated by Pam Brylowe

              Soybeans are used for more than feeding the plentiful deer in Jones County. Anyone who has spent any time deer hunting or just riding around Jones County during the summer and autumn knows that deer love soybeans and can be found in soybean fields with regularity. However, as these fields are now being harvested, combines will displace the deer. Once picked, these Jones County soybeans will be off to many places – some may surprise you.

            The first and most widely used soybean product is soybean oil. Soybean oil can be used for a number of different things. The oil may be used for frying your French fries at Aggie’s or your seafood in Morehead City. Some canned fish like tuna and sardines are packed in soybean oil. A lot of processed foods including baked breads, crackers, cookies and pies contain soybean oil.

            Soybean oil is used in the production of bio-diesel. Bio-diesel is cleaner burning than petroleum based diesel fuel. Bio-diesel has reduced particulate emissions. Bio-diesel is non-toxic, is a renewable energy source and also supports the U.S. economy. Soy oil is used as a solvent that is used to remove oil from creeks, streams and shorelines without side effects on people, animals or plants.

            Soy oil is also used in many industrial lubricants, solvents, cleaners and paint products. The soy component of these products helps them to withstand higher temperatures while being more environmentally friendly and renewable.

            Soybean oil is used in the printing industry. Soy based inks are more operator and environmentally friendly when compared to petroleum based inks. Soy based inks also tend to clean up easier reducing down time and increasing profits making for a stronger economy. Soy oil is also being used in the making of crayons. The soy oil makes the same great crayon and color but makes the crayons much safer for their primary user children.

            These small beans are big on nutritional benefits for all kinds of creatures including humans. People who like crunchy snacks have probably tried roasted soybeans. Soybeans are also used in many products found in grocery stores – such as soymilk, soy flour, soy protein, tofu and other foods.

            Soybean based foams have also opened a door that you may have never thought of. The foam is being used in many daily items including both refrigerator and car doors. The foam is being put to use as insulation in coolers and refrigerators. Some companies are using the soy-based foam in footwear. Since October 2007 Ford Mustangs have had soy-foam in the seats making for one comfortable ride!

            One big use for soybeans in eastern North Carolina in particular is animal feed. When the oil is extracted from the soybeans there is some left over called soybean meal. This meal is high in protein fiber. This meal is often baked or toasted and prepared to make poultry, cattle, swine or other animal feed. About 50% of the soybean meal for animals is processed for poultry feed. Another 25% is used for swine or pig food and the rest for cattle and other pet foods. Soybean meal is a relatively inexpensive source or protein and very healthy for the animals. With all of the chicken, turkey and hog houses around Jones County we use our fair share of soybean meal.

            Another growing area of soybean meal use is fish farming. The aquaculture industry is turning to more plant based protein sources of which soybeans are a major component. This change has come about because of the increase in prices for fish meal, once the main component of fish food, and an effort to reduce the overall amount of fish meal being used.

            As you have just read, Jones County soybeans reach far and wide. Soybeans may be used to print your Jones Post you are reading right now. Soy-based foam may line that freezer where you’re storing the ground beef, bacon and fish that were probably once fed soybean meal. Soybean oil may be part of that crayon your grandchild is chewing on making it much safer for him or her. Soybeans may be part of that paint you are using to spruce up the living room or the engine oil that keeps your car running smooth.

            So as Jones County farmers harvest soybeans around the county this fall, remember those little soybeans and all they do for us.

             North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.

              Jacob Morgan, Agriculture Agent, wrote this article for the September 12, 2013 issue of the Jones Post.