For the first time, an entire class of professional tractor pullers will use biodiesel in their drives toward the finish line and perhaps a championship.

The United Soybean Board (USB)/soybean checkoff will sponsor the National Tractor Pullers Association’s (NTPA) 2010 season and its newest competition division, the Light Pro Stock class. As part of this new program, all of the tractors competing in the Light Pro Stock class will run on biodiesel.

In conventional diesel engines, soy biodiesel delivers horsepower, mileage and hauling rates comparable to petroleum diesel, but offers higher cetane levels than petroleum diesel and better lubricity and BTU content than any other alternative fuel. Whether it’s powering a pulling tractor, a farm tractor or a tractor trailer, biodiesel is a proven performer.

“I think tractor-pull enthusiasts will be very impressed by the performance of biodiesel,” says USB Director Russ Carpenter, a soybean farmer from Trumansburg, N.Y. “Biodiesel, in many ways, is superior to traditional diesel, and what better way to demonstrate that superiority than to push it to the max the way tractor pullers push their fuel to the max?”

According to NTPA Office General Manager Gregg Randall, many pullers already realize the performance benefits of biodiesel and use biodiesel in competition.

“We sent out a questionnaire to our NTPA Grand National Super Farm competitors, and 60 percent related that they use biodiesel fuel in competition,” Randall says. “Many pullers believe in the fuel, and they use it in competition. The consumption should grow with the sponsorship of the Light Pro Stock class.”

Soybean oil remains the dominant feedstock for U.S. biodiesel production, and the soybean checkoff funds a large portion of the biodiesel research and promotion conducted by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). In fact, an NBB study shows that the U.S. biodiesel industry creates green-collar jobs and offers positive contributions to our economy. In 2009, these contributions included:

• Supported nearly 23,000 jobs in all sectors of the economy.

• Increased household income by nearly $1 billion.

• Added $4.1 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product.

• Provided $445 million of tax revenue to the federal treasury and $383 million to state and local governments.

In addition to its performance and economic benefits, biodiesel represents one of the best carbon reduction strategies available with today’s vehicle technologies. Studies conducted by the U.S. departments of agriculture and energy show that biodiesel can reduce life-cycle greenhouse gases by as much as 78 percent, which helps fight global warming. The ozone (smog) forming potential of pure biodiesel hydrocarbons is 50 percent less than that of petroleum diesel fuel.

USB and the NTPA have partnered together since 2007 to increase the availability and use of biodiesel. A large portion of pulling fans work in the agriculture and trucking industries, so biodiesel proves to be a natural fit.

“Tractor pulls allow us to talk to people who like to watch power, including farmers and truck drivers,” says Carpenter. “This represents a great opportunity to communicate with the right people and give the right answers to their questions about biodiesel. It also offers the chance to let farmers talk to other farmers about using the fuel made from their soybeans in their operations.”

Pull attendees can learn more about biodiesel’s benefits firsthand from checkoff farmer-leaders at five events this summer, including:

• Tomah, Wis., June 24-27.

• Arcola, Ind., July 9-10.

• Fort Recovery, Ohio, July 30-31.

• Saluda, S.C., Aug. 13-14.

• Jefferson City, Mo., Aug. 27-28.

Check this summer’s NTPA schedule to find out if Light Pro Stock “Powered by Biodiesel” hooks will be in your area. In addition to powering the Light Pro Stock class, NTPA will use biodiesel to fuel its pulling sleds and track-grooming equipment at select events and to fuel its on-road vehicles as they travel from pull to pull.

USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.