Soy is a crop consumed and grown worldwide. Its use as an alternative to animal protein and a source of protein has increased significantly over the years.
With the increased use of soy, its impact on the environment has been questioned worldwide. Hence researchers and farmers have been finding solutions through sustainable soy.
Sustainable soy refers to decreasing the impact of soy on the environment by adopting sustainable soy farming techniques such as crop rotation, reduced-till or no-till, water and Soy nutrition management, precision farming technology, and cover crops.
There are numerous advantages to growing soy sustainably. Some of them are listed below.
Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emission
Producing soy and using it sustainably can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in transportation, agriculture, and land use. For example:
- Soy can be used as a feedstock for biofuels, such as biodiesel because when burned, it emits fewer greenhouse gases than traditional diesel fuel.
- Greenhouse gas emissions is caused by animal agriculture, especially methane emissions from livestock. Hence, soy can replace animal protein in diets, reducing the demand for meat production.
- Synthetic fertilizers are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. But when soy is used in crop rotation with other crops, such as corn, it helps reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers.
- Soy can be used as a cover crop, which helps reduce erosion and improves soil health. A healthier soil can sequester more carbon, reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Sustainable soy production can help in biodiversity preservation by protecting natural habitats and reducing the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides that can harm wildlife.
Furthermore, sustainable soy production can encourage the implementation of crop rotation and other sustainable agricultural practices, which can help to preserve soil health and reduce erosion. Healthy soil supports diverse communities of microorganisms and other life forms vital to maintaining healthy ecosystems.
Besides, sustainable soy production can also help to promote agroforestry, where trees are integrated into farming systems, providing habitat for wildlife and supporting biodiversity.
Apart from reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preserving biodiversity, sustainable soy production has an economic benefit too.
Firstly, sustainable soy production increase yields, reduce initial input costs and enhance soybean quality, thereby increasing farmers’ profitability. This is because sustainable farming practices, such as crop rotation, cover cropping, and conservation tillage, improve soil health and reduce the need for expensive synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
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Secondly, sustainable soy production can improve market access through programs such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Soy (RTRS). The RTRS promotes sustainable soy by setting environmental, social, and economic sustainability standards and certifying producers who meet these standards. RTRS certification can open new markets for soy farmers and help secure long-term contracts with buyers.
Growing sustainable soy can have numerous social benefits. It supports local communities by creating jobs and generating income. This can alleviate poverty and promote economic development in rural areas where soy is produced. Also, it can help improve working conditions for soy farmers and workers in the soy supply chain. This includes measures such as providing access to training and education, promoting fair trade practices, and ensuring safe working conditions.
Lastly, sustainable soy production helps to reduce the negative impacts of soy farming on human health, such as exposure to harmful chemicals. It can be achieved by using integrated pest management strategies, promoting the use of natural pest control methods, and reducing the use of synthetic fertilizers.
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Ways To Incorporate Soy into Your Diet
Soy is a nutritious food that can be easily incorporated into your diet in the following ways:
- Soy Milk: It is an excellent alternative to cow’s milk and has high protein, calcium, and vitamin D content. Nowadays, it is easily available in the market, and you can use soy milk in various recipes or consume it on its own.
- Tofu: Tofu is a highly sought-after soy-based product that can be used in numerous dishes, from stir fries to salads. It has a soft texture and neutral flavor that can be easily seasoned and prepared in multiple ways. In addition, it is also a good source of protein and calcium.
- Edamame: Edamame is a form of immature soybean harvested before it fully matures. And it is a great snack or appetizer. You can prepare it easily by boiling or steaming it. It is high in protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients.
- Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is commonly used in Asian cuisine to season a variety of dishes, from stir fries to marinades to noodles. However, be mindful of the sodium content in soy sauce and use it in moderation.
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The Bottom line
We have less land to produce food, and more people need reliable protein. Hence it is essential to look for an alternative, such as sustainable soy. As mentioned above, sustainable soy production has numerous benefits, from reducing greenhouse gases to social benefits. Therefore, incorporate sustainable soy in your diet to reduce your carbon footprint on the earth.