by PATRICIA GROTENHUIS
A new market for Ontario soybeans could be created while fixing potholes.
Last month, Grey County applied a new asphalt sealant containing soybean oils rather than petroleum to a one kilometre stretch of road in Grey County.
“Grey County has always been an innovator. You get a sense of pride in trying to help the environment,” says Percy Harrison, a cash crop farmer in Durham and district representative for Grain Farmers of Ontario.
Harrison hopes to see the project succeed, and a new market open for Ontario soybeans. It will benefit Ontario farmers, he says. “Any market opportunities are good, and should be taken advantage of. It’s the same as ethanol.”
The sealant, which is 40 per cent soybean and includes other agricultural oils such as canola oil and recycled polymers from foam, is made in the United States by BioSpan Technologies, Inc. It has been available there since 2003, says Bob Jamieson. Jamieson is president of Listowel-based Surface Green Solutions, which carries the product.
“We’re working with the Grain Farmers of Ontario to establish a market and build a facility in Ontario. The American company has interest in building here,” says Jamieson. Ontario crops would be used to make the product locally, he says.
Jamieson says BioSpan has committed to build an Ontario plant once a target of 100,000 gallons of sales per year is reached.
Asphalt roads can last 15 to 18 years before paving is needed. Jamieson says using the sealant could make roads last a total of 20 to 25 years.
Gary Shaw, director of Grey County Transportation and Public Safety, says the road will be evaluated regularly beginning in the spring of 2011 to determine if the product does improve road life.
Shaw says repaving an asphalt road costs $80,000 per kilometre, so to extend life by at least another five years with a product costing $12,000 per kilometre will have a financial benefit.
He began researching the product after reading a December 2009 article about its use on a trial in Edmonton.
“With $3.5 million spent on paving in Grey County last year, anything that could extend the life of the asphalt while helping the farmers is a bonus,” he says.
The sealant has also been applied to a parking lot in Perth County and Jamieson says Lambton County is considering trying the product. BF