Austin Heil

Soybean Farmer and Precision Ag Specialist

Austin may be revolutionizing his family farm one machine at a time, but it’s easy to see that he credits the work the Ohio Soybean Council is doing as a driving force for innovation and growth. Keep reading to learn his thoughts on how your checkoff dollars are impacting his operation and Ohio farmers. The proof is everywhere.

Q. Why do you believe in the Ohio Soybean Checkoff?

I know what I’m good at and I know what I’m not. Being a farmer, we have so many variables and tasks that we are trying to execute daily. If I had to be in front of international boards or different industries trying to market just my soybeans… I wouldn’t have the capacity to expand upon what we do on the farm.

The technology we utilize on our farm probably ranks up there with farms ten to fifteen times our size, but we don’t have thousands of dollars to buy specialty machines. So, Dad and I come up with ideas, scrap materials, and build a solution that grows our operation.

The reason I believe in the Ohio soybean checkoff is because it is made up of an amazing team whose sole focus is to work for the Ohio farmer. What our checkoff dollars do for the industry, I can’t even comprehend at times. They drive innovation, help educate our young students and the public, and are fully capable of doing what I am not.

Q. How is the Ohio Soybean Council driving the market for your soybeans?

When you look at the early farmer, your market was local. You didn’t have to worry so much about your commodity leaving the county. Now, 1-2% of people are producing the food for 100%. Our market is no longer just local. If you look at the supply chain down the rail, our soybeans here in Ohio are loaded on a train and go to the Carolinas, China, and beyond.

On top of that, the American soybean is one of the most consistent and highest quality products that no one has come close to replicating.

As the populations in other countries continue to grow, these markets want the protein that our soybeans are able to deliver. By educating us, doing the plant research, and making sure we continue to have the tools to grow that high quality soybean, the Ohio Soybean Council is helping us create a premium in the market for our product.

Q. How does the plant research the checkoff helps fund impact you?

I was able to meet with some of the researchers at Ohio State University. The work they are doing on soybean cyst nematodes is ensuring our soybeans will be sustainable for future generations. They are continually working to find if it’s a variety selection for traits or some type of chemistry that will help eliminate the nematodes. Because of this research, they are able to work with seed companies to make sure those genetics are then passed on to the farmer.

If we still farmed with the same corn and soybean varieties that my grandfather had, it would definitely be a challenge. We wouldn’t have the technology to fight the insects and disease that we have today.

Q. How is GrowNextGen impacting the soybean industry?

My girlfriend’s mother is a science teacher in northwest Ohio. She has been able to go on trips because of GrowNextGen and utilize the material in her classroom. GrowNextGen is delivering farmer-driven information and programs since a majority of our population hasn’t grown up on a farm.

This is important because when you look at agriculture, there are so many moving parts. From the base level farm, to ag retailers, to applicators, to agronomists, to all the products and technology we use on the farm to grow our crops, it’s massive. Then, you have to move it down the line and deliver it back to the industry and consumers. Each one of these steps has so many people.

In order for us to continue to drive this industry, we need to educate and help our young people understand what the agriculture industry is and what it takes to deliver food, fiber, and fuel to the world. We need them – the next generation that doesn’t come from the farm – to be as educated as possible so they can help drive future innovation.

Q. What do you think about the new uses for soybeans being developed?

The Council is continually driving innovation through Airable – our own research lab – and is always looking for new ways to work with the soybean and create new markets and opportunities. While the grease and the cleaners aren’t world-changing, soybean oil is opening up different markets because these soy-based products and technologies perform better than the non-green alternatives, that’s revolutionary. I’m excited to see how the plant research and the high protein content our soybeans have continue to drive this.

Q. Why do you think the Ohio Soybean Council is effective at what they do?

I just started serving on the Ohio Soybean Board for District 8. Seeing the work in the background, they have the right people doing the right things. They have also teamed up with so many organizations that help them continue to drive innovation, and they are making sure they are at the table to whatever they feel is directly beneficial to the farmer. When you have that seat, you’re able to drive that conversation and drive the industry forward. And when they share that information on their social platforms, website, and magazines, it’s all proof that what they are doing works.