From Beans to Machines: John Deere Supports Industrial Uses for Soy

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Two million pounds. That’s how much Envirez soy-based, sheet-molding compound John Deere estimates it uses in its HarvestForm™ tractor and combine panels every year.

Envirez was developed and commercialized by Ashland Specialty Chemical Company in 2001, with support from the soy checkoff. Ashland was the first in its industry to develop this technology and was proud to introduce it through John Deere’s agricultural equipment in 2002, particularly because of Deere’s commitment to soybean farmers.

Ashland says 25 percent of the raw material in Envirez comes from soybean oil and corn-derived ethanol. Each 37,000-pound batch of Envirez that John Deere uses saves 10 barrels of petroleum and reduces greenhouse-gas emissions by 34,000 pounds.

John Deere Global Manager of Materials Engineering & Technology Jay Olson says the resin adds strength, flexibility and endurance to the HarvestForm body panels. After more than a decade of real-life “field” testing, the durable panels have proved their ability to withstand the elements.

Olson’s department continues to evaluate sustainable, soy-based materials to replace petroleum in other industrial uses, including foam seats.

“John Deere has always been a green company, in color and policy,” Olson confirms. “If soy-based materials perform equally and there is cost parity, why not do the right thing?”

Its longstanding partnership with John Deere is just one example of the checkoff’s commitment to helping companies to incorporate U.S. soy in more industrial uses. These partnerships have resulted in the commercialization of hundreds of soy-based products.