Now more than ever, consumers are seeking food products with ingredients that are locally sourced and sustainably produced. Soy from Illinois is an excellent example of a nutrient-dense ingredient that meets consumers’ demands for sustainably produced food. Whether it is in the practices they use on their farms, or through the care they take when planting and harvesting, Illinois soybean farmers are at the forefront of sustainability and land conservation efforts.
“Our farmers work hard to make sure the land is taken care of. To them, sustainability is a way of life,” said Rachel Peabody, Director of Communications for the Illinois Soybean Association. “For as long as they’ve been farming, Illinois soybean farmers have taken extra steps to protect the land, air and water for future generations.”
To demonstrate their care for the land, most Illinois soybean farmers participate in national and state programs, such as the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP). The SSAP is a certified approach managed by the U.S. Soybean Export Council where third parties audit soybean growers’ practices to verify sustainable soybean production. There are numerous farming innovations and practices that help Illinois farmers meet the SSAP guidelines to sustainably produce soybeans and protect the environment.
Soil is one of the most valuable resources for growing soybeans. That is why Illinois farmers are increasingly implementing practices such as crop rotation and cover crops to improve soil fertility and prevent soil erosion. Some farmers also embrace the rich soil with a low- or no-till approach to farming, a technique used to grow crops without disturbing the soil, which keeps carbon and nutrients safely stored away for the crop to utilize and reduces carbon dioxide emissions caused from tilling the soil. With the help of these practices, among others, Illinois soybean farmers have reduced soil erosion by more than 90 percent over the last 30 years.
Water is another vital resource that Illinois soybean farmers work to conserve. Precision farming technologies help farmers more precisely irrigate their soybeans, using less water. Near waterways and in significant watershed areas, farmers have been slowly releasing acreage from crop production and allowing it to return to its natural wetland state. In the last 20 years, Illinois farmers have converted more than half a million acres of farmland to wetlands.Click here to see more...