Ohio is typically associated with corn but did you know SOY is actually Ohio's #1 crop? Ohio is the 5th largest soybean producing state!
Also - did you know that 97% of farmers are family businesses?
I was able to take a class hosted by Ohio Soybean Council and The Center for Food Integrity a few weeks ago, which included a virtual tour of Kent Family Farms. This is by far the most interesting and educational opportunity I’ve had through my food blog! I mean, I learned so much about soybean farming. All while being totally amazed and inspired by Zoe Kent who is a female farmer and business owner.
Zoe knew she wanted to farm from an early age, got her agriculture degree from Ohio State (GO BUCKS), and now owns and operates the farm that has been in her family for 6 generations. She is one of the youngest farmers in the country.
Corn and Soy are the two main crops harvested on her farm - about a 50/50 split. With that said, I learned that Soy is significantly more profitable than corn (around 3x more)! Soybeans are used for feed (a large majority goes to this), food (like edamame, tofu and soy milk), fuel, and other soy-based products (like wood stains, paint, candles, and more).
Sustainability is highly important for farmers, as well as continuous improvement. Zoe ensures her farming practices are as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. The biggest sustainability practice is that she uses no till and minimum till farming which prevents erosion and reduces fuel in the field.
I also learned about planting cover crops which protects the ground, makes soil healthy again, and helps fight climate change. This is a practice Zoe proudly employs - planting rye, turnips, rapeseed and clover in the winter. These are crops that you won’t harvest but help put nutrients into the soil.
Zoe’s farm also has CRP (conservation reserve program) ground, which are acres that are not in production but instead provide a habitat for insects and birds that won’t be disturbed by farming.
I also learned that technology plays into sustainability practices as well. The more advanced the equipment is (i.e. auto-steer feature), the more accurate farming and harvesting crops can be. This minimizes time in the field, fuel used, labor, etc.
Hearing from a farmer directly opened my eyes to all the work that goes into foods and products that we consume and use regularly, yet we rarely think about the origin or back story or all the labor that is involved. It really inspired me to become more educated on how our food is produced and processed, and to always support local if, when and where possible! The large majority of farmers are family-owned and not big corporations.
Thank you Ohio Soybean Council, The Center for Food Integrity and Zoe for teaming up to sponsor this highly informative class!