Project Details:

Cost Effective Soy-Based Garden Pots

Parent Project: This is the first year of this project.
Checkoff Organization:North Dakota Soybean Council
Categories:New uses
Organization Project Code:QSSB
Project Year:2021
Lead Principal Investigator:Nita Yodo (North Dakota State University)
Co-Principal Investigators:
David Grewell (Iowa State University)
Chiwon Lee (North Dakota State University)

Contributing Organizations

Funding Institutions

Information and Results

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Project Summary

This project will greatly increase market demand and price of soybeans by expanding market opportunity for plant containers produced from soybeans. The current bio-based containers, commercialized by Selfeco, are produced nearly exclusively from corn because of the lower price of corn protein compared to soy protein; however, the researchers already have collected extensive data showing that plant containers produced from soy provide superior performance in terms of plant growth, health, and fruit yield. This work will develop a novel bioplastic formulation that will incorporate soy-based fractions to improve the performance of the containers while being cost-competitive. The new containers will not only be fully biobased, degradable, and provide inherent fertilizer for the plant growth, but they will also prevent root circling which in turn will promote plant health and fruit yield, e.g., in tomatoes and peppers. This will result in wider consumer acceptance and growth of the market for biobased plant containers. Based on market size potential evaluated by the researchers and others, this project will result in soybean sales of more than 12M bushels annually. Working with three industry partners – SelfEco, Green Dot, and Ainong Plastics – will ensure smooth technology transfer and allow fast commercialization and market acceptance.

Project Objectives

1. Test plant health and yield with containers produced from four formulations for 2 months in NDSU greenhouses
2. Determine decomposition rates for the containers produced from the various formulations.
3. Perform economic analysis with a targeted price increase of less than 25%
4. Identify product (container) performance in terms of consumer acceptance by distributing to various commercial growers

Project Deliverables

1. The development and production of plastic pellets for injection molding as well as production of containers of four formulations for subsequent plant growth tests.
2. Data validating the performance of each container formulation in terms of plant health, such as height, diameter, color and root ball morphology, fruit yield, and container decomposition in soil.
3. Techno-economic analysis that will determine the price sensitivity and corresponding viability of the proposed product in terms of costs and price compared to existing products, namely petrochemical-derived planting containers
4. The seamless translation of knowledge and experience from the researchers to industry partners.

Progress of Work

Updated June 28, 2021:
Please refer to the PDF file attached. Thank you!

View uploaded report PDF file

Updated June 28, 2021:
Please refer to the PDF file attached. Thank you!

View uploaded report PDF file

Final Project Results

Updated June 28, 2021:

Benefit to Soybean Farmers

The targeted goal is to develop a product that can be commercialized and result in +$10M annually in container sales within three years, corresponding to demand for 12M bushels of soybeans annually. Additional economic benefits that will arise from the development and implementation of bioplastic container cropping systems are the profit realized from the use of domestic raw materials and the development of new domestic jobs (Grewell et al., 2007). It is anticipated that with market acceptance, SelfEco Plastics, Ainong Plastics, and other container manufacturers will be able to replace as much as 50% of the product weight with protein or hauls derived from soybeans within 3-5 years.

Performance Metrics

Project Years

YearProject Title (each year)
2021Cost Effective Soy-Based Garden Pots