March 18, 2005 | By: Aimee Heald-Nielson

A partnership between the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and Owensboro Grain Co., will increase opportunities for collaborative research related to soybeans.

“The partnership will provide an industry- and consumer-driven aspect to our research planning,” said Scott Smith, dean of the UK College of Agriculture. “By linking real-world problems of processing soybeans for food and fuel, we will be better able to design appropriate solutions through our research programs.”

Owensboro Grain will work with the college to implement strategies to develop higher-valued protein and oil products to benefit producers, processors and consumers of Kentucky and the surrounding region. Both partners will continue to work jointly with other universities, such as the University of Illinois, and the Kentucky and Illinois soybean associations to develop value-added uses for soybeans.

“We will continue to develop soybean varieties for things such as biodiesel fuels, linoleic oils and oils that are more beneficial to us for food use versus the commodity uses we focus on today,” said John Wright, vice president for strategic planning and development at Owensboro Grain. “This is an opportunity to network between two entities that have been here a long time but have not leveraged each other’s assets in the past. UK has not approached us; we haven’t approached them until now, and this is a new way of doing business with a lot of potential.”

Research will encompass many disciplines at UK including agriculture, renewable fuels, health and medicine and a variety of other areas.

Smith said an example of possible research is working to design soybeans with the potential to produce protein and oil for specific foods and animal feed. Then farmers can plant a crop designed for a specific purpose, with an established market.

“We want to find ways to grow healthier soybeans for food and soybeans that produce more oil without sacrificing protein value,” said Nancy Cox, associate dean for research in the UK College of Agriculture. “We’ll work on ways to design soybean products that taste better and have high nutritional value and also study soybeans that are appropriate for biodiesel production.”

Owensboro Grain recently announced plans to build a biodiesel plant. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that can be made from soybeans. Gov. Ernie Fletcher announced details of Kentucky’s first ever comprehensive energy plan at Owensboro Grain’s edible oil refinery in early February 2005.

Wright said the company envisions the plant benefiting not just Kentucky but the entire region and beyond.

“There is more and more discussion, support and recognition for less dependence on foreign oil and as a result more independence on developing energy sources here in the U.S.,” he said. “Renewable fuels will play a role in achieving those goals. We have an opportunity to produce the best products in the state, the region and the nation. Our partnership with UK will give us the opportunity to do that.”


Writer: Aimee Heald-Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267

Contact: Nancy Cox 859-257-3333