Cutting the ribbon during the opening of the FPS

A new soy-based asphalt base was showcased this week at the Central Iowa Expo grounds near Boone – home to next week’s 2022 Farm Progress Show. Marking the event with a ribbon cutting were, from left: Eric Cochran of Iowa State University, Nacu Hernandez of SoyLei Innovations, Iowa Soybean Association President Robb Ewoldt, Gary Nystrom with the Central Iowa Expo Board and Matt Jungmann with the Farm Progress Show. The asphalt is located at that Varied Industries Tent on the expo grounds. (Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

The road toward success is paved with soybean oil

August 25, 2022 | Jeff Hutton

The long road toward a new asphalt project with soy-based technology was celebrated this week with the unveiling of an actual long road.

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony this week marking the upcoming 2022 Farm Progress Show at the Central Iowa Expo grounds near Boone, a 42,560 square foot asphalt base was on display.

The stretch of the acre-long roadway, located at the Varied Industries Tent area at the expo grounds, is the result of a partnership with the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), Iowa State University (ISU), Central Iowa Expo and Farm Progress, using new soy technology and recycled materials.

Collaborative process

“I’m thrilled to represent the 40,000 Iowa Soybean farmers here through our checkoff dollars and other checkoff dollars from the United Soybean Board, which helped fund the project,” says ISA President Robb Ewoldt, who farms near Davenport. “We developed this high oleic soybean and its oil helps us with this asphalt.”

Eric Cochran, a professor at ISU’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the director of the Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites, says this is landmark technology.

“This pavement is 100 percent recycled asphalt,” he says. “When resurfacing with this soybean oil, it allows us to use recycled content and it doesn’t end up in the landfill. Thanks to the Iowa Soybean Association and the United Soybean Board for their patience and the time that it took from the laboratory to the field.”

Matt Jungmann, event director for Farm Progress, says the project has been transformational.

“It has been one of the best experiences I’ve worked through from initial concept to asphalt on the ground. We talked about it in April and by July, it was on the ground,” he says.

This test site in Boone County, is just the beginning, says Nacu Hernandez, CEO of SoyLei Innovations, which is marketing the product across the country. The company hopes to sell the product globally.

“The marketing and commercializing for this and to have this platform to show the world this technology has been great,” he says. “This project is just the beginning of many applications. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

A proud moment

Thousands of visitors to next week’s Farm Progress Show will see firsthand this new soy-based technology.

“We’re creating an enhanced experience for visitors by upgrading the Varied Industries Tent area with this asphalt,” Jungmann says. “Farmers and exhibitors will find this new surface creates a better environment for the show.”

The Farm Progress Show, the largest outdoor farm show in the nation, is a great place to showcase this technology, made from soybeans likely grown in the Midwest, Ewoldt says.

“Infrastructure and demand are two priorities for Iowa soybean farmers,” he says. “Soy’s incorporation in asphalt enhances the product’s durability and longevity. It also increases demand for soybean oil, improves the product’s environmental footprint and provides the expo grounds with greater flexibility in the events it attracts and hosts.

“What a great place to show how ISA is spending these checkoff dollars and how we’re providing and generating new uses for the oil product that we grow in our fields,” Ewoldt says.

Following the ribbon cutting, Ewoldt was beaming.

“There’s an acre of asphalt out there, 215 bushels of beans,” he says. “I’m just so proud. We’re showcasing this to the agricultural world.”

Farm Progress Show

The Farm Progress Show runs from Tuesday, Aug. 30 through Thursday, Sept. 1 at the expo grounds, 1827 217th St., Boone.

There will be more than 600 exhibits, numerous demonstrations and ag businesses, with political leaders and financial analysts also expected to attend.

Tickets are $20 for adults at the gate or $15 in advance. Tickets may be purchased online at

Brock Johnston contributed to this article.