Local farmers may face reduced yields if the soybean rust fungus blows northward into Delaware this season, but there is some good news to report as well.
According to the Jan. 26 Delaware Soybean Board press release (www.desoybeans.com), soy biodiesel fuel is coming to the Indian River Marina.
With the introduction this spring, Indian River will become the first marina in the Mid-Atlantic region to offer soy biodiesel to government and commercial fleets, and private boat owners.
According to the Delaware Soybean Board, many state fleets have already switched over to the 20 percent soy/80 percent diesel mix.
• Delaware Dept. of Transportation (DelDOT)
• Delaware Electric Cooperative
• Delaware Department of Agriculture
• Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA)
• Sussex County Conservation District
• Dover Air Force Base (DAFB)
• Conectiv Power Delivery
• University of Delaware Ag Experimental Station
Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse said making the conversion was easy. “You can run biodiesel in any diesel engine,” he pointed out.
While farmers aren’t likely to see an immediate spike in commodity prices, increased use of the environmentally-friendly fuel should provide a boost moving forward.
As Scuse put it, “Any time we can find a new use for one of our agricultural products, that’s going to affect revenues.
“This may have an impact all across the United States, getting more people to use soy biodiesel,” he continued.
Scuse suggested increased use of biodiesel would benefit the environment (it burns more cleanly than diesel), and could reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
The market development should be welcome news for local soybean growers, who are still unsure what impact soybean rust may have this year.
The fungus blew in from the equatorial zone last hurricane season, settling for the winter in the Deep South.
It needs a live host, so it won’t “over winter” in Delaware. However, if winds bring Soybean Rust up the coast later this year, farmers may need to add fungicide to their operating expenses, and/or lose part of their crops.
“This will be an ongoing learning experience for all of us,” Scuse pointed out. “We don’t know how far the Rust is going to spread, or how fast.”
The fungus is not harmful to humans or livestock — it attacks the leaves of soybean plants, not the beans.