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Missouri Soybeans takes a swing at developing soy-based golf balls


The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council set its sights on developing soy-based golf balls as part of its effort to fund innovative new products. 

The project, one of several proposals funded by the council this year, is in the early stages at Pittsburg State University. Researchers will focus on developing cores for golf balls from soy-based materials, including soy meal, as well as producing a soy-based outer layer. The team will conduct performance testing and prepare the golf balls for sale. 

“Research is a cornerstone of our pursuit of innovative solutions to the challenges we face as farmers,” Kyle Durham, chairman of the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council board of directors, said. “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.”

Dr. Ram Gupta, an associate professor at the university, is leading the project; research and development is expected to last two years and cost more than $117,000. 

Gupta plans to apply for a patent in partnership with the council once his research is completed. 

The 13-member council accepts proposals for projects to fund in the fall and evaluates the applications throughout the rest of the year. Reviews are funded through the soy checkoff, a program where farmers contribute half of 1 percent of the sale price of their crop for education, research, and promotion. Funding for these new projects began July 1 with the new fiscal year.  

Gupta’s project is part of Missouri Soybeans’ mission to research new uses and increase demand for soy, in addition to outreach and education efforts. Soybean farmers are investing in a myriad of soy-based innovations, from biodiesel and foods to new strains and cultivation techniques.  

Golf balls won’t be the only soy-based products rolling through Missouri; the Cole County Sheriff’s Department is testing soy-based tires which boast increased traction and tread-life compared to petroleum-based tires. The department installed its second set earlier this year and expects to request a third in the near future.