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Two New Soybean Composition Research Projects

November 2018

The soybean composition issues and associated opportunities information presented is based on USB’s further analysis of soybean samples collected from farmer fields by USDA-NASS as part of their Objective Yield (OY) Survey. This information provides compositional details on the U.S. soybean crop from the 2015 and 2016 growing seasons in the eleven represented states to illustrate aspects of the “Composition-Opportunity.” The primary initial goal is to stimulate further thought and dialogue within the soybean value-chain regarding the “Composition-Opportunity.” The ultimate goal is beneficial changes in the compositional characteristics of the U.S. soybean crop and the effective capture of this value through a market system which includes composition in the valuing of soybeans.

The information presented allows value-chain participants to better understand the extent of compositional variation within the U.S. soybean crop. This information includes:

  1. Estimates of soybean crop composition for defined, multi-county geographic units.
  2. Results from models that utilize whole soybean composition to estimate soybean oil and meal yields and soybean meal composition.
  3. “Snapshot” estimates of soybean product value based on the soybean compositional values presented and defined market price scenarios.

From this information, a better understanding of the economic implications associated with compositional variation can be developed. The economic implications will then serve as a starting point for the determination of potential business opportunities.

A considerable amount of additional work, including allied industry expertise and participation, is required to justify a change in market behavior on the scale that will be required to move from the market’s present commodity focus to one based on composition.  As more information becomes available, it will be added to this site.

In the second study (Farmers Independent Research of Seed Technologies (FIRST), soybean samples from the 2017 crop year across multiple U.S geographic regions were provided by Farmers Independent Research of Seed Technologies to determine the extent to which (1) soybean meal end-user relevant compositional characteristics vary and are associated with genetic background, and, (2) yield per acre is related to reported compositional characteristics.  Soybean meal end-user compositional characteristics focused on amino acid levels (percent of soybean and estimated levels in soybean meal), with emphasis on lysine, threonine, methionine and cysteine.  Soybean samples were analyzed using NIR spectrometry.

Results demonstrated:

  1. Composition does vary significantly by soybean variety – Can improve composition through plant selection;
  2. Soybean meal end-user relevant compositional variation exists in commercial soybean lines – Near-term beneficial change is possible;
  3. Relationship between soybean yield and reported compositional characteristics tend to be weak – Can improve composition within the context of the ranges observed without impacting yield

General observations for soybean samples collected and analyzed prior to 2017 were similar to those observed in 2017.  While the overall value-proposition for soybeans will continue to emphasize yield and soybean meal/soybean oil content, soybean meal value can be enhanced through end-user amino acid composition considerations.