Special Feed Quality Alert #2 Soybean Amino Acids Maximize Feed Value
Why Does the HY+Q Program Focus on Amino Acids?
In case you haven’t heard, despite a better year in 2018, soybean quality, value and inclusion of soy in livestock feed have been sinking over time. Boosting the feed value of soybeans by selecting high quality varieties is key to reversing the long-term decline, according to findings from a checkoff-funded program.
In this edition of our special alert series, we asked Megan Miller, ag innovations and tech transfer manager for the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), to explain why the HY+Q (High Yield PLUS Quality) program focuses specifically on amino acids rather than protein.
“As protein levels in soybeans decreased in recent decades, so did soybean inclusion rates in livestock diets. This is most notable in swine, where livestock nutritionists tell us that inclusion rates dropped 70 percent or more since 1990,” Miller explains. “The checkoff invested in the HY+Q program to increase the feed value of soybeans, and one of the most powerful ways to do that is by looking at soybeans the way livestock customers do.”
To better understand livestock customers’ needs, HY+Q evaluated soybeans utilizing the same software livestock nutritionists use to formulate rations. This reconfirmed that livestock customers buy soybeans based on protein because that’s how it’s sold to them.
However, livestock farmers formulate rations based on specific essential amino acids. In fact, a general protein setting does not even exist in ration balancing software.
“With farmers selling bushels, processors selling protein and nutritionists valuing amino acids, the way our soybeans are valued from farm to customer is disconnected,” Miller adds.
HY+Q analyzed more than 34,000 samples from soybean farmers and 768 varieties from seed trials, pinpointing variety-level amino acid value and assigning a livestock feed value rating to determine which soybean varieties are most likely to meet the feed efficiency needs of our customers.
“We’ve discovered two things,” notes Miller.
- First, more than one-half of current soybean varieties have amino acid profiles that do a better job to meet livestock customers’ needs. But, until the HY+Q program made this information available, farmers had no way of identifying those varieties.
- Second, looking at the intrinsic value times the number of animals fed worldwide, the financial implications of this information are significant. Perhaps billions of dollars of value are hidden at the variety level. Part of the challenge is that most Illinois farmers have no way to sell their soybeans based on feed value today. That’s because multiple varieties with a range of relative feed value scores are mixed together and sold in bulk to livestock producers.
To measure the feed value of your soybeans, obtain a sampling kit from SoyValue.com. Then, submit samples this fall (2019) for evaluation and receive a personalized livestock feed value report.
In addition, visit SoyValue.com's “Soybean Variety Information” to see variety-level livestock feed value ratings for soybeans in your state.
Be on the lookout for the next edition, where we’ll discuss in more detail the findings from additional HY+Q analyses.
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.