Bringing an American perspective to the recent World Soybean Research Conference in South Africa, Jim Carroll, a soy checkoff farmer-leader from Brinkley, Ark., addressed soy production from a global viewpoint, noting that customers demand soybeans and soy products produced in a sustainable manner.
Carroll spoke about the practices he has implemented to decrease his farm's carbon footprint while maintaining high productivity. Carroll says the conversations he had at the conference reinforced his notion that soy customers place a high priority on sustainability.
"Several people from around the world came to me after the presentation was over and asked me for more information about sustainability," said Carroll. "Sustainability is constantly gaining importance, and I am very honored to have had the chance share my experiences."
Many U.S. soy customers consider sustainability an important issue, according to the Soy Checkoff. The U.S. soy industry received good marks in several reports and studies conducted by the checkoff measuring the sustainability performance of various aspects of U.S. soy production.
Sustainability was one of many topics discussed at the conference, which brings together members from every link of the soy value chain. Participants heard presentations and discussed the geographic differences in growing, processing, transporting and marketing soybeans, soy meal and soy oil.
The checkoff notes that recent polls of U.S. soybean farmers show they do their part to increase sustainability on their operations – more than 50% of farmers say they made changes to improve their farms' sustainability performance.
"I spoke with several people from both Africa and Europe who were very interested in how I increased efficiency and conserved water while irrigating," Carroll noted.
According to the checkoff, in the last 30 years, U.S. farmers have reduced energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, while increasing irrigation efficiency per bushel of soybeans by more than 40%.
"For me, sustainability is just about trying to make reasonable, economic and environmental decisions for my farming operation," Carroll said. "If you are a farmer today, chances are you already work to improve your farm's sustainability, whether you know it or not. All farmers want to make the best decisions possible for their land and operation."