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U.S. soybean quality demonstrated through more nutrients, greater consistency

By Lisa Humphreys • Dec 28, 2017 at 8:00 AM

When it comes to soybean quality, the U.S. soy industry wants to be sure that its customers are armed with the right information. The U.S. Soy Family, which includes the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), American Soybean Association (ASA), and United Soybean Board (USB), promotes numerous studies around soy quality, providing international customers with the necessary information to make the right soy choice.

Annually since 1986, USSEC partners with the University of Minnesota Department of Agronomy & Plant Genetics to gather samples from soybean producers across the United States’ growing regions to analyze them for protein, oil, and amino acid concentration – yielding scientific data that verifies the exceptional composition and high nutritional value of U.S. soy.

In 2017, sample kits were mailed to 6,688 producers selected based on total land devoted to soybean production in each state, so that response distribution would closely match that of soybean production. By early December, 1,837 samples were received, which were analyzed for protein, oil, and amino acid concentration.

Preliminary survey results show that, across U.S. growing areas, protein concentrations were unusually consistent across the U.S. in 2017, although slightly lower overall than 2016 levels and historical averages. However, oil concentrations in 2017 were nearly equal to 2016 levels and were higher than historical averages. Additionally, essential amino acid results varied very little by state and region and the U.S. average of essential amino acids was slightly higher than last year.

The quality study also found an increase in protein concentrations in some northern states. For example, Minnesota and South Dakota soybeans had higher protein in 2017 than 2016, with South Dakota increasing protein by nearly one percentage point.

Because protein levels were similar across all U.S. growing areas, this indicates that the U.S. will be exporting soybeans with a more consistent nutritional bundle from all port locations.

Recent studies comparing soybeans of different origins continue to reinforce the understanding that U.S. soy provides the nutritional bundle needed to optimize animal nutrition and profitability. The full value of U.S. soybean products is found when buyers consider total metabolizable energy, batch-to-batch consistency, essential amino acid profile and digestibility.

Dr. Gonzalo G. Mateos, professor of animal science at the University of Madrid [Spain], conducted research study on the nutritive value and energy quality of soybean meal for pigs and poultry. His team compiled data, gathered over eight consecutive years, to map out the energy and protein levels of samples of the world’s largest exporters of soybean meal: the United States, Brazil and Argentina. In his peer-reviewed and published study, Mateos concluded that composition and quality of protein is the best indicator of nutrition. He said that U.S. soybean meal is the world’s top and most convenient of the world’s protein meals’ supply.

Dr. Hans H. Stein, professor of animal nutrition at the University of Illinois, analyzed digestible, metabolizable energy in swine by analyzing soybean meal from China, Argentina, Brazil, and the U.S., and 4 sources from India. Stein’s peer-reviewed and published study showed that U.S. soybean meal had more digestible amino acids than that of other origins and that soybean meal from the U.S. has greater digestibility and less variability in composition and digestibility.

This global research continues to demonstrate that soybeans and soy products can vary widely depending on their origin. Year after year, U.S. Soy can be counted on by nutritionists and managers to consistently maximize animal performance and reduce production costs.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lisa Humphreys is with U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) Communications. The USSEC connects U.S. soybean farmers with opportunities to improve human nutrition, livestock production and aquaculture. This mission is accomplished with a science-based technical foundation and a global network of partnerships including soybean farmers, exporters, agribusiness and agricultural organizations, researchers and government agencies. USSEC operates internationally and works with aquaculture programs in different nations to help ensure sustainability and profitability for industry producers. USSEC programs are partially funded by the United Soybean Board (USB). For copies of this research, contact Lisa Humphreys at lhumphreys@ussec.org.

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