ABOUT SOYBEANS

Soy Sources

  • Featured Resource Follow the journey of a soybean What do soybean plants look like? How do farmers keep them healthy? What happens after soybeans are harvested? Find the answers to these questions and more in the digital children's book, "Pod to Plate: The Life Cycle of Soybeans".
  • The farmer will use a tractor and planter to plant the soybean seeds. The seeds need to be planted at the right depth and spacing. Farmers use settings on the planter and computers in the tractor to plant them correctly.
  • In the summer, small flowers called blossoms bloom on the plants. When pollinated, these blossoms will turn into pods. A soybean plant will have 60-80 pods, and there will usually be three soybeans inside each pod.
  • In the fall, the soybean plants are at the end of their life cycle. They turn from green to brown and the leaves fall off. The beans inside the pod begin to dry and become hard. When this happens, the soybeans are ready to harvest. Farmers use large machines called combines to cut the stems and separate the soybeans from the pods.
  • Once the soybeans are harvested, semi-trucks or wagons take them to large grain bins that hold the beans. These bins can be on the farm or at a grain elevator. From there, the soybeans are sold to companies that will make them into things we use every day.
  • Soybeans are usually broken apart, or processed, before they are used. The beans are heated and ground into soybean meal. Meal is an excellent source of protein. Soybeans are also full of useful oil. The soybean oil is squeezed out of the meal.
  • Soybeal meal is a wonderful food for farm animals. Pigs, beef and dairy cows, chickens, and even fish, eat soybean meal. The protein in the soybean meal helps the animals grow and be healthy. These animals make food for you to eat like bacon, hamburgers, milk, chicken, eggs and fish.
  • Large trucks, buses, tractors and combines use a fuel made from soybean oil called biodiesel. Biodiesel is better for the air because it burns cleaner than regular diesel. Soybeans also can be used to make crayons, paints and the ink used to print books and newspapers.

Pod to Plate

Fact Sheets

From the history of soybeans to coloring pages for kids, the fact sheets below can be used to supplement learning about Illinois soybeans at home and in the classroom.

Classroom Resources

The materials below are resources for K-8 teachers to help foster learning about Illinois agriculture in classrooms.

  • ILLINOIS FARM FAMILIES

    A place to hear a variety of voices – from farm families to food and health experts – about what’s on your table.
  • CENTER FOR FOOD INTEGRITY

    A not-for-profit organization whose members and project partners represent the diversity of today’s food system – from farmers, ranchers and food companies to universities, restaurants and retailers.
  • U.S. FARMERS & RANCHERS ALLIANCE

    A farmer- and rancher-led organization engaging with consumers who have questions about how today’s food is grown and raised.