May 13, 2021

Uphoff: Hey, have you seen my grain truck?

Like most farmers, maintaining my equipment is important to my bottom line and my ability to do my job efficiently. And that includes my semi grain truck that runs on biodiesel.

I am behind the wheel sometimes eight to 12 hours a day. I rely on B20 — a fuel blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% diesel — to operate the semi’s diesel engine. It requires no engine modifications. The addition of B20 improves lubrication, which extends the engine life, and may even provide better fuel mileage for me in the long run.

There are other benefits as well for a market Illinois soybean farmers have long been associated with helping to build. B20 has become a proven, high-quality fuel option that can power all of our farm equipment without performance issues in cold weather. Biodiesel offers environmental health benefits through its clean-burning properties and reduced carbon emissions.

Which brings me back to my semi. The Illinois Soybean Association is rolling out a new emphasis on biodiesel that includes a fresh look for my semi. It is wrapped in ISA’s biodiesel artwork to showcase the recent rebrand effort for ISA’s biodiesel program. The wrap includes a new logo and messaging targeted at reaching farmers, especially, with the B20 message.

We are encouraging farmers to adopt an “I grow it, I use it” attitude for biodiesel and the truck wrap is a part of that larger effort. ISA also is working to get some action shots this summer of the truck out and about and use them on social media to attract even more farmer interest.

If you are looking for additional incentive to give biodiesel a shot on your farm, consider the economics, too. Think of the soybeans growing in your fields as supplying food, feed and sustainable energy. Using B20 will put money back into your operation, as biodiesel adds more than 10% to the price of soybeans and helps reduce soy protein waste.

Biodiesel is the largest growing soybean oil market of the last decade. In fact, soybean oil demand has increased more than 300% in 10 years and biodiesel is now the second largest market for soybean oil, behind food uses. Fleets across the country are expanding their use of biodiesel blends, which further contributes to the income growth of Illinois farmers.

I am proud to showcase my semi on the road, using a product I helped create that can be regenerated every year in my soybean fields. One of ISA’s Utilization Committee goals is to increase use of domestic biodiesel, so this is one way we are working to do just that.

If you travel between Decatur and Shelbyville, give me a wave if you see me coming. And while you may not get a cool biodiesel truck wrap when you switch to biodiesel, you can get information on how to start down the road putting biodiesel to good use on your own farm from ISA’s new biodiesel website page: www.ilsoy.org/farmer-resources-biodiesel.

Elliott Uphoff raises corn and soybeans as a fifth-generation farmer near Shelbyville with his wife, Hailey. He is the District 10 director for the Illinois Soybean Association and represents ISA on the Soy Transportation Coalition. He also is a seed salesman who holds a bachelor’s degree in plant and soil sciences from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.