AGRONOMY, FORESTRY AND NATURAL RESOURCES

Soy-based herbicide takes top honors

Story by Chad Campbell

May 4, 2020

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et’s do that again!” thought Alyson Chaney and Peyton Clark as they stood on stage holding a $10,000 check. On March 27, 2019, after a challenging eight-month competition hosted by the Indiana Soybean Alliance, the pair was already planning their next moves.

“The Purdue Student Soybean Innovation Competition gives Purdue students an excellent opportunity to develop a soy-based idea from conception to completion, complete with a finished, working prototype,” said Michelle Creech, Purdue Student Soybean Product Innovation Competition Program Manager.”

Video provided by Michelle Creech

This year’s competition included students from agriculture, engineering, liberal arts, science, management and pharmacy.

Some joined hoping to replicate the success of past winners like Jocelyn Wong, whose invention of soybean crayons helped launch her career. Others, like Jingyuan Li and Shuyi Peng of Team GoPoly used the competition as the senior design project for their Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) major.

Team GoPoly
Zifeng Huang, Jingyuan Li, Shuyi Peng and Kunming Shao of Team GoPoly created a soy-based smart phone case that is waterproof and scratch resistant. (Photo by Michelle Creech)

This year’s champions, Chaney and Clark, returned hoping to gain additional experience, memories and seed money to support their future endeavors.

Chaney, a senior studying agronomy and Clark, a senior in forestry and natural resources, met when they were growing up in Clinton, Indiana.

Although both families planted soybeans, Chaney said the competition opened her eyes to the crop’s potential. “Soybeans were just something we planted every year. I didn’t realize how many things soybeans could be used for.”

Last year, the duo created Soy Seal, a food-safe, oil-based wood finish.  

After exploring several possibilities this year, Chaney came up with the idea of creating soy-based herbicide.

Clark and Chaney with Soy Seal
Clark and Chaney showcasing Soy Seal in 2019 (Photo by Michelle Creech)
Clark and Chaney with Soy Seal
Clark and Chaney showcasing Soy Seal in 2019 (Photo by Michelle Creech)

Chaney, a senior studying agronomy and Clark, a senior in forestry and natural resources, met when they were growing up in Clinton, Indiana.

Although both families planted soybeans, Chaney said the competition opened her eyes to the crop’s potential. “Soybeans were just something we planted every year. I didn’t realize how many things soybeans could be used for.”

Last year, the duo created Soy Seal, a food-safe, oil-based wood finish.

After exploring several possibilities, this year Chaney came up with the idea of creating soy-based herbicide.

“As an agronomy major, I’ve done internships each summer with ag retail locations, doing work with lots of chemicals and applications,” Chaney explained.

Chaney and Clark decided to focus on the concerns of homeowners, attempting to create an all-natural weed killer, safe for homes with pets and children.

Clark and Chaney with HerbiSoy
Clark and Chaney, Team HerbiSoy (Photo by Michelle Creech)

Chaney and Clark attribute much of their success to the team’s advisors, economics lecturer Robert Holland, and director of the Purdue Crop Diagnostic Training Research Center Corey Gerber.

“At the onset, as Alyson and Peyton presented their overall idea and protocol to me, it became obvious that they had put a lot of thought into this project,” Gerber recalled. “As I watched and interacted with them over the weeks, I noticed that they spent countless hours reading up on research articles that helped them fine-tune their experimental design, making key adjustments to their research protocol each time they conducted an additional experiment, continually informing me of the results they observed, and asking me great questions throughout the entirety of their project.”

The excitement carried throughout the year, with the team using every opportunity to develop their product.  Over winter break, Chaney and Clark prepared weeds to test. Between classes, they texted each other about ways what they’d learned could relate to HerbiSoy.

“If we weren’t graduating, I’m sure we’d be back to do it again,” said Chaney.

Video provided by Michelle Creech

Wildlife and forestry student branches out

Rachel Brummet’s passion for forestry and wildlife led her to Alaskan islands, wildfires in Montana, city streets where she used pyrotechnics to help people and wildlife coexist, and, of course, to Purdue’s forestry and natural resources department.

And it all began with a discussion about blueberries.

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Award winners credit college’s contributions

Since 2003, 14 of the 36 G.A. Ross and Flora Roberts Award winners have been from the College of Agriculture. Justin Couetil, a biochemistry student, won the G.A. Ross Award in 2019. Cameron Mann won the Flora Roberts Award in 2017, representing agricultural communication and agribusiness.

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Conquering the Trail

Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) alumnae Rebekah Lumkes and Baleigh Haynes joined an elite group of individuals, completing a 2,192 mile thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. For one, it was the culmination of a college pipedream. For the other, it offered a much-needed life reset. Here is their story.

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Wildlife and forestry student branches out

Rachel Brummet’s passion for forestry and wildlife led her to Alaskan islands, wildfires in Montana, city streets where she used pyrotechnics to help people and wildlife coexist, and, of course, to Purdue’s forestry and natural resources department.

And it all began with a discussion about blueberries.

Read Full Story >>>

Award winners credit college’s contributions

Since 2003, 14 of the 36 G.A. Ross and Flora Roberts Award winners have been from the College of Agriculture. Justin Couetil, a biochemistry student, won the G.A. Ross Award in 2019. Cameron Mann won the Flora Roberts Award in 2017, representing agricultural communication and agribusiness.

Read Full Story >>>

Conquering the Trail

Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) alumnae Rebekah Lumkes and Baleigh Haynes joined an elite group of individuals, completing a 2,192 mile thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. For one, it was the culmination of a college pipedream. For the other, it offered a much-needed life reset. Here is their story.

Read Full Story >>>