Soybean Meal Value Variation: A Case Study in U.S. Swine

Shawn P. Conley, Extension Soybean and Small Grains Agronomist, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] is the most important oilseed crop in the U.S., grown mainly as a protein and oil source for animal and human consumption. Upon seed delivery, elevators do not typically analyze soybean seed for quality; however, enduser processors do. The quality characteristics of soybean meal (SBM) can ultimately affect the local soybean per ton price offered to soybean producers after soybean processors begin to receive and valuate the new crop soybean seed. Soybean meal is commonly used as feed source for non-ruminant species (swine) due to its high protein concentration, excellent amino acid (AA) profile and adequate supply (Cromwell, 2000). However, substantial variation in SBM composition has been observed among meals produced in different countries or areas within a country (Lagos and Stein, 2017). The location of U.S. production thus appears to have a great influence on soybean seed as a result of cultivar selection and weather and therefore, by extension to meal composition as well.

Region-specific agricultural management, in-season weather conditions, and their interactions greatly affect soybean seed yield and composition (Mourtzinis et al., 2017), which in turn can affect SBM composition. Many underlying weather and environmental factors have been suggested to explain this variation, including in-season temperature variance (Yaklich and Vinyard, 2004). The effect of temperature on seed composition is especially pronounced during seed fill (Kane et al., 1997), and particularly so from R5 to R8 (Mourtzinis et al., 2017). Obviously, compositional differences, as shaped by environmental and management factors, ultimately affect seed and meal composition and amino acid balance. The resultant SBM value will thus vary and can potentially affect the per bushel price offered locally, regionally, and nationally each year.

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