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Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Facts


  • The soybean, also known as the soya bean, is a legume native to East Asia.
  • According to ancient Chinese legend, the wild soybean's nutritious properties were first discovered by a band of traeling merchants about 5,000 years ago.
  • Soybeans were first cultivated in northern China and from there spread to Japan, Korea and the rest of SE Asia.
  • Soybeans were first brought to North America in the early 19th Century.
  • During the Civil War, soybeans were used in place of coffee because real coffee was scarce.
  • One acre of soybeans can produce 82,368 crayons.
  • US farmers first grew soybeans as cattle feed.
  • Henry Ford experimented with soy-based plastics in the production of his cars. In 1940 he swung an axe at a car trunk to demonstrate the durability of soy plastics.
  • George Washington Carver developed more than 300 uses for soybean, including edible oil and meal, with his research at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Because it is a legume, it was useful to restore nutrients to the depleted soils of the South. Legumes fix nitrogen in the soil.
  • U.S. Soybeans represented 56 percent of world oilseed production in 2000. 72,408,000 soybean acres harvested in 2000, compared to 448,000 acres harvested in 1924.
  • Some of the better known soybean products include soy meal, soy flour, soy milk, tofu, meat substitutes, tempeh, soy sauce, infant formula, biodiesel fuel and animal feed.
  • Researchers are currently researching the use of soy oil to make rubber for various interior and exterior parts, including door seals, cupholders, and floor mats.
  • Soy ink is used in over 95 percent of America's daily newspapers that circulate more than fifteen hundred copies per run.
  • Soybeans make great crayons. One acre of soybeans can make 82,363 crayons.
  • Soybeans are typically among Oklahoma's top 10 agricultural commodities in value.