John Deere strikes cushy deal with Ford on soy foam


DEARBORN, Mich. — Farmers could soon bring in the harvest using equipment made with their own crops, thanks to collaboration between Ford and John Deere.

The two companies have agreed that Deere will further develop and manufacture Ford’s soy-based flexible foam for seating materials in tractors, riding mowers and other equipment.


Ford first introduced soy-based polyol to the auto industry in the seat backs and seat cushions of the 2008 Ford Mustang. The 2008 Ford F-150, Expedition and Lincoln Navigator now also feature this ecofriendly technology, with the next application coming on the 2009 Ford Escape.

Meanwhile, Deere has used soy-based products for body panels on some farm equipment.

Ford will work with John Deere and its seat supplier, Sears Manufacturing Company, to bring this greener alternative to traditional seat foam to fields and even back yards nationwide.

Ford’s soy-based foam will be developed for use in the seat backs, seat cushions, arm rests and head rests of John Deere equipment, which is used in agriculture, forestry, construction and lawn and turf care.

Sears Manufacturing also will work to incorporate the technology into Class V through Class VII medium and heavy trucks.

Other companies. Soy-based foam is just one of the technologies Ford Global Technologies, LLC is making available through licensing to companies such as John Deere for applications outside Ford.

Ford has a rich history in incorporating soy-based materials into its products. The Model T, for example, once contained 60 pounds of soybeans in its paint and molded plastic parts.

Now, Ford’s Plastics Research team has formulated the chemistry to replace a staggering 40 percent of the standard petroleum-based polyol used in seating materials with a soy-derived material.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, soy-based products have only one-quarter of the level of total environmental impact of petroleum-based products.


Ford is working closely with the United Soybean Board to bring soy foam to the automotive market. The company is using 2.2 million pounds of soy foam in the 2008 Mustang alone.

Just based on that application, this green alternative is on track to deliver a carbon dioxide reduction of 605,000 pounds annually.

With more than 3 billion bushels of soy harvested in the U.S. each year, at a 20 percent soy foam inclusion rate, Ford could potentially use up to 844,000 bushels of soy throughout its product lineup annually.


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