ISA Special Alert #10 — Pursue Soybean Compositional Quality During Variety Selection
Soybean Growers Can Achieve Yield and Quality Goals While Helping End-Users Achieve Their Aims
Soybean growers are highly successful at increasing yields, which has been a tremendous boon to the industry. In fact, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, U.S. soybean yield per acre has roughly doubled since 1988.
However, while this increase in yield is impressive, soybean compositional quality has decreased at the same time. Also, according USDA data, protein levels of U.S. soybeans dropped more than two percentage points from 2000 to 2017.1
The Illinois Soybean Association’s checkoff-funded High Yield PLUS Quality (HY+Q) program has learned from nutritionists that this decline in soybean compositional quality and feed value has contributed to a 70 percent decline in soybean meal inclusion rates for swine feed over the past 30 years.
The HY+Q program found that, often, soybean compositional quality has not been considered by soybean breeders or producers. If compositional quality factors such as protein and amino acid content were utilized in breeding decisions, they were considered only after the yield goals were satisfied, and typically they have not been used at all.
Because quality is what matters most to the end-users like livestock producers who purchase the lion’s share of Illinois soybeans, ISA is encouraging soybean growers and seed companies to pay more attention to important varietal compositional quality traits beyond yield and oil.
“Of course, yield is always a primary consideration,” says Matt Dasenbrock, who raises seed soybeans for the Kitchen Seed Company with his brother Rick near Sigel, Illinois. “But we’re also in search of varieties that meet end-user goals, too—hopefully we can do both at the same time.”
Samples from the Dasenbrock’s farm have been submitted to the U.S. Soybean Export Council testing program since 2013 and have scored extremely well in compositional quality over the years.
Their results underscore the fact that the quest for quality does not have to be an either-or proposition. While there is a weak relationship between yield and quality, choosing varieties that score well in both yield and feed value helps achieve both goals.
“We also raise cattle, so I can understand the livestock quality perspective,” Dasenbrock adds. “Anytime you can provide a consistent quality feed that helps reduce inputs (and input cost), that helps increase profits. And that’s what this is all about.”
Ultimately, HYQ researchers note that including the amino acid profiles along with a soybean variety’s protein content profile provides a more reliable estimate of soybean meal value, particularly when considering soybean meal destined to be used in animal feed rations.2
Visit Soyvalue.com to learn which soybean varieties offer increased quality. You can also order test kits to discover how well your soybeans perform under your specific field conditions.
Watch for the next email in this series to discover the sustainability benefits of planting high-value soybeans.
- Bloomberg. As World Eats More Meat, U.S. Soy Losing Battle to Feed Animals. Accessed May 15, 2019. Available at: https://www.agweb.com/article/as-world-eats-more-meat-us-soy-losing-battle-to-feed-animals-blmg/.
- Mourtziis S, Borg B, Naeve S, Osthus J, Conley S. Soybean meal value valuation: A case study in U.S. swine. Soyvalue.com. Accessed March 1, 2019. Available at: https://soyvalue.com/rpt-files/SBM-quality-paper.pdf.
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean growers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development, soybean innovation and profitability efforts, issues analysis, communications and education. Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmer interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C. through the Illinois Soybean Growers. ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace. For more information, visit the website www.ilsoy.org.