5 Soybean Uses You May Have Never Heard Of

January 29, 2024

South Dakota soybean farmers have long invested in new use research and promotion efforts through their checkoff, and the results have been outstanding to date. New uses for soybean oil and soybean meal have emerged right here in South Dakota just in the past few years, adding increased market versatility and supporting overall soybean demand:

  • Checkoff dollars helped promote soy-based tires by equipping law enforcement vehicles across the state with tires made by Goodyear.

  • South Dakota State University and Dakota State University have upgraded their athletic fields over the past decade to utilize soy-based turf products.

  • Another checkoff-supported initiative has brought a new soy-based sealant to the streets of Sioux Falls as well as a pilot program in Badlands National Park.

These recent accomplishments notwithstanding, it could also be argued that we’ve just scratched the surface in terms of soy-based possibilities. That’s a primary reason the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council has advocated for and contributed funds toward the POET Bioproducts Center in Brookings, home to Dakota BioWorx and a growing number of exciting new enterprises exploring soy uses and other bio-based products.

Lesser-known soy uses

In addition to some of the high-profile soy-based products mentioned above, here are some lesser-known uses stemming from extensive soybean research and innovation.

Cosmetic Products

The growing green cosmetics movement has accelerated the use of soy derivatives in skin products such as face cleansers, sunscreen and eye makeup. These soy-based products offer consumers concerned about toxins and the environmental impact of traditional skincare products a more natural, sustainable alternative.


Much attention has been paid to soybean oil’s pivotal role within the renewable fuels movement over the past several years, and for good reason. You’ve likely heard less about soy-based motor oil, a green alternative now in use within the auto industry that reduces our collective dependence on petroleum-based lubricants.

Biodegradable Mulch Film

Petroleum typically serves as the principal component in polyethylene plastic mulch films used extensively in specialty agriculture, home gardens, parks and playgrounds. However, a new biodegradable mulch film that uses renewable polymers derived from soybeans now exists thanks to bio-based polymer research, providing a more sustainable alternative that can be tilled into the soil after use.

Acoustical Underlayments

What is an acoustical underlayment? We’re glad you asked. Acoustical underlayments are laid before flooring is installed in the construction process to assist with noise reduction. They are traditionally produced using petroleum-based chemicals, but a green, soy-based acoustical underlayment has arrived on the market as an alternative option and promises to entice builders and contractors seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (L.E.E.D.) certification.

Cabinetry Plywood

Manufacturers of decorative plywood used in cabinets and shelving units have harnessed adhesive properties inherent in renewable, nontoxic soybean meal to replace formaldehyde, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified as a toxic substance. This breakthrough use has the potential to meet increasing demand for eco-friendly solutions for new construction and home renovation.

Learn more about new uses for soy

New uses for soybeans continue to emerge on a regular basis. To stay up to date on the latest developments and soy-based innovation, talk with your South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council district director or visit the soy uses page on our website.