Although soybean production revenue most visibly depends on crop yield, producers also benefit when they grow soybeans that fit buyer specifications, such as protein or oil content. The following three points explain why growing and delivering high-protein soybeans can pay.
1) High protein content supports a higher commodity price. The United Soybean Board recently supported a study that quantified the price effect associated with improving soybean protein levels by 1 percentage point. Assuming that yield and oil remain constant, boosting protein content by 1 percentage point contributes an additional $7.70 to $12.96 per acre to the soybean estimated processed value (EPV), which reflects the total value from meal, oil and hulls and influences soybean prices. The specific EPV improvement would vary by state, and this study analyzed EPV potential in 13 states. The study found that improving the protein level by 1 percentage point would increase soybean prices by $9.07 per acre in Missouri and $7.70 per acre in Kansas. Elevating protein content by 1 percentage point in Nebraska would realize the greatest EPV increase, an estimated $12.96 per acre.
2) High-quality protein content allows soybeans to better compete with alternatives. Soybeans with strong protein levels can attract domestic buyers that may be considering protein substitutes such as dried distillers grains or canola meal, according to a story from Corn and Soybean Digest. Additionally, if U.S. soybeans yield high protein levels, then U.S. producers can more adeptly compete in the international marketplace.
3) Protein quality can influence need for synthetic amino acid supplementation. Not only is total protein content important, but the quality of that protein also influences soybean value. Protein quality refers to the soybean’s amino acid profile and the extent to which it is consistent and digestible, according to the story from Corn and Soybean Digest. If a soybean delivers amino acids in a balanced concentration needed for a particular application, such as livestock feed, then buyers would have a reduced need for synthetic amino acid supplementation.