Science and Agriculture (The Soybean) 1939

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Contents. The cultivation and use of the soybean as an illustration of the relation of science to agriculture and the interrelation of science, agriculture, and industry.

Opens with a view of an Oriental farmer beginning to harvest his crop of soybeans. The commentator explains that the soybean has been cultivated for centuries in the Orient. A map showing first China and then the United States is accompanied by the explanation that the soybean has been grown extensively in the United States since 1918. An agronomist is shown examining experimental fields of the soybean as the commentator explains that agriculture experiment stations have played an important part in the development of the use of the soybean in the United States. The agronomist pulls up a plant for examination as the commentator explains that he is interested in the soybean as a means of conserving soil fertility. In the laboratory the agronomist examines the nodules which have formed on the roots of the soybean plant. The commentator explains the function of the bacteria-filled nodules in building the nitrogen content of the soil. The agronomist removes some soybean bacteria from a culture cabinet. The bacteria are mixed with charcoal. Later, the bacteria-charcoal mixture is diluted with water and sprinkled on some soybean seed, thus inoculating the seed and making nodule growth possible on new plants.

The agronomist decides to visit a nearby farm where soybeans are being grown. On his way he passes two fields of corn. One field is poor because of improper rotation practice. The other field is good because of the use of the soybean in a good plan of crop rotation. The agronomist stops at the roadside to talk to the farmer’s wife, who is gathering edible soybeans. When the agronomist arrives at the soybean field, the farmer is mowing soybean hay. They discuss the proper time for cutting soybeans for this purpose. The farmer says that he has another field of beans which he expects to harvest in about a month. A combine is shown in operation in a field of soybeans. Particular attention is called to the fact that the combine returns to the ground the straw containing much nitrogen. A truck receives the beans from the combine hopper and they are started on their way to the processing plant.

At the processing plant the beans are dumped out of the truck, cracked, and fed into expellers. Soybean oil is shown trickling out of the compression chambers where, the commentator explains, the beans have been subjected to intense heat and great pressure. Soybean oil is also filtered. Brief views indicate that the oil is used in paint, linoleum, shortening, and salad dressing. Meal, which is fed to dairy and beef cattle, is shown coming out of the press and being loaded into bags.

An industrial chemist is shown at work in his laboratory as the commentator explains that such men are working to find new uses for soybean oil and meal. This particular chemist is striving to improve the process by which soybean meal is converted into a plastic. Some soybean meal is mixed with formaldehyde, placed on calender rolls which mix it with other ingredients, then tested on a flow tester which records plasticity. The mixture is placed in a mold which, in turn, is placed in a hydraulic press, where it is subjected to great pressure. The chemist removes a small plastic article from the mold. Many articles made from soybean plastics are displayed on a revolving wheel. One finished piece of plastic material is tested on a flexural testing machine. The agronomists and the industrial chemist are shown at work in their laboratories.

Appraisal. Reported very good for showing (1) the procedure in producing and processing soybeans, (2) the contribution of science to industry and agriculture, (3) the interdependence of agriculture and industry, (4) the use of legumes in soil building, and (5) the role of government experimentation in agriculture. Should be useful in showing the work of the agronomist and the research chemist and indicating the adjustment of agriculture to new conditions.

The film was reported to be well organized to show the interrelation of science, industry, and agriculture.

Photography and sound are excellent. science-and-agriculture-the-soybean-1939

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