Taking Missouri’s Soybeans to the Greens

Missouri soybean farmers invest in research to develop soy-based golf balls.

Missouri’s soybean farmers are seeing new opportunities on the greens with their investment into the future of a soy-based golf ball. Among the checkoff-supported research projects announced recently by the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council is an effort to put soybeans to work as part of a popular summer pastime: golf.

“Research is a cornerstone of our pursuit of innovative solutions to the challenges we face as farmers,” said Kyle Durham, a farmer and chairman of the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council board of directors. “Collaboration and partnerships are vital to maximizing the effectiveness of our research dollars, and it’s exciting to see the creativity being applied to growing our markets by developing new uses for the soybeans we grow.”

The project, led by Ram Gupta at Pittsburg State University, is titled: Value-added applications of soybean for golf industries. The work is dually focused on developing golf balls’ core material from soy meal and other soy-based materials, and developing soy-based polyurethanes for the balls’ outer layer. The project also includes testing the materials to ensure optimal performance and preparing products for commercialization. 
It is too soon to estimate a timeline for the availability of a soy-based golf ball. The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council will work with its partners to share that information as soon as possible.

Funding decisions are made by the 13-member Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council board of directors, following review by staff and outside consultants. The work is funded through the soy checkoff program, in which farmers contribute one-half of one percent of the sale price of their soybeans to research, promotion and education. Each project is evaluated individually and by a committee of farmers elected by their peers to serve on the statewide soy checkoff board.

The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council solicits proposals each fall, and project evaluations for new and ongoing projects are completed during the winter and spring. Funding for selected projects generally begins July 1, with progress and results shared each spring in the Annual Research Report.

The application process is aligned with the Merchandising Council’s strategic plan, prioritizing work in soybean research and growing demand for soy, as well as education and outreach projects. Developing new uses for soy and identifying opportunities for improving every day items through soy technologies is a priority for Missouri’s soybean farmers’ checkoff investments as part of their strategic priority to grow demand, especially domestic demand, for soy.

Previous years’ funded projects have made possible key advances, including commercialization of SOYLEIC® non-gmo high oleic trait technology, developing soybean varieties tailored to regional growing conditions, and growing market opportunities around soy-based biodiesel. 

The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council is a statewide, farmer-led organization working to improve opportunities for Missouri soybean farmers though a combination of research, outreach, education and market development efforts supported by the soy checkoff. Learn more online by exploring mosoy.org.