ISA Special Alert #8 Take Care of Livestock Customers and Soybean Yields
How to Protect Livestock Markets without Yield Sacrifice when Selecting High- Value Soybean Varieties
It is a long-held belief among some producers that improved soybean quality can come at the expense of yield, but new research shows that’s not necessarily true. There does not have to be a trade-off between soybean yield and quality given today’s selection of varieties, according to the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff-funded High Yield PLUS Quality (HY+Q) program.
This research indicates that soybean producers can protect their livestock feed markets without sacrificing yield by choosing high-yielding varieties with maximum nutritional quality. The studies specifically pinpointed variety-level soybean quality based on amino acid values, which are the primary indicator of nutritional value for livestock. Yield plus quality is possible because there is an almost undetectable relationship between livestock feed value and yield.
Dr. Spyros Mourtzinis is a researcher at the University of Wisconsin and owner of Ag Stat, a statistical analysis consulting service. Based on statistical analysis of more than 34,000 samples from soybean producers and 768 varieties from seed trials going back to 2013, Dr. Mourtzinis says there is no relationship between yield and quality as it pertains to livestock feed value that is of any practical or biological importance.
“The data clearly show that exceptional livestock feed value is available today along with yield,” says Dr. Bart Borg, director of nutrition at Standard Nutrition Services. “The more amino acids packed into a pound of soybeans, the more they meet the needs of end users like me.”
Borg adds that the worst thing a producer can do for the soybean feed market is choose varieties without looking at their soy feed quality and value.
“Looking at nutritional characteristics when choosing soybean varieties can help reverse the downward slide of U.S. soybean quality and the 70 percent lower soybean meal inclusion into livestock rations we’ve seen over the past three decades,” the nutritionist explains. “Soybean breeders also need to pay more attention to amino acids as they bring new varieties forward into the market. We do not have to sacrifice yield to recapture lost market share for soybean meal in livestock feed rations.”
Soybean producer and ISA director Jenny Mennenga in Le Roy, Ill., says she makes a point to ask seed company representatives to provide information on livestock feed value when making seed purchase decisions.
“As growers, if we select these high-quality, high-yielding soybeans we can head off even more synthetic amino acids making their way into animal rations, and replacing soybean meal,” she emphasizes. “Animal agriculture is our number-one customer. Our fixation on yield and agronomic characteristics over the years has led to a real decrease in protein and amino acid profiles, and that can make an $0.80 cent difference in feed cost per hog at the variety level.”
Mennenga reminds growers that ISA offers a website database at soyvalue.com that reports livestock feed value on the varietal level. Many major seed companies and their Illinois offerings are included in this database.
“What we have found is that over one-half of the commercially-available soybean varieties have superior quality and feed values,” she says. “We need to protect our livestock feed market, and we can do that by being more aware of the soybean varieties that we plant.”
Visit soyvalue.com to learn more about the varieties that deliver maximum value and quality to the animal agriculture industry. There’s also a sign-up form to request a sample kit to get soybeans tested for nutritional value next fall.
Watch for the next email in this series which offers additional customer insight into soybean quality.
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.