In an effort to address deteriorating rural road conditions the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) announced a partnership with Knox County, Illinois, and PoreShield, a soy-based concrete enhancer. The STC launched a pilot project to determine the effectiveness of the product in stabilizing roads and preventing further damage. The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) acknowledges the importance of rural paved roads and bridges, particularly for farmers, and the limited funds available to maintain them.
Rural road challenges are not limited to Illinois. The 2021 Infrastructure Report Card released by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the U.S. a nationwide score of C- for total road quality. In addition, 43% of all public roads were listed as in poor or mediocre condition.
“If we don’t have a well-maintained system of rural roads and bridges, farmers will not be able to efficiently get their soybeans and grain to market,” says Tim Scates, a soybean farmer from White County, Illinois, and Board Director for the ISA and the STC.
The PoreShield pilot project took place in November of 2022 in Knox County where the product was applied on the transverse joints of 2.25 miles of eight year old concrete pavement.
“One of the effective ways to protect concrete from degradation is to treat the joints with a sealant in order to create more resistance to water and salt penetration. I was pleased to partner with soybean farmers in doing a demonstration project utilizing PoreShield,” Knox County Engineer Duane Ratermann says.
PoreShield is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred program and is based in Indianapolis. It is 93% bio-based material and soybean oil is a prominent component.
Scates said this was an important project to improve local knowledge of PoreShield and the potential positive impact it could have on roads throughout the state.
“By collaborating with Knox County on this project, we hope to increase the awareness of these soy-based sealants for our rural infrastructure. We think it is an approach that should be more widely implemented within Illinois,” he added.
Ratermann says he was drawn to PoreShield because of its soybean base, environmental sustainability, and his commitment to improve the longevity of rural roads in Illinois.
David Niekamp, a soybean farmer from Coatsburg, Illinois, and a Board Director for ISA and STC, says that the success of this project could create an additional market for soybean farmers, in Illinois and across the country.