Pulse Beat Individual Articles

Industry Collaboration to Move the Needle on Soybean Value

Brian Innes, Executive Director, Soy Canada

The value of soybeans for Western Canada is in focus thanks to industry-wide collaboration on research and market development activities.

Melvin Rattai a Beausejour, M.B. farmer who has been growing soybeans for 12 years has seen a lot of changes in the industry over the years and credits shorter season varieties as the key reason acres are increasing. He grows soybeans because, as he said, “They fit nicely into our crop rotations, offer another source of income and provide extra agronomic benefits by breaking up weed and disease cycles.”

Rattai presented his experience growing soybeans as part of the second Northern Soybean Summit, a virtual event hosted by Soy Canada in late 2023. The event highlighted the latest soybean research on the feeding value of western Canadian soy, along with grower, exporter and industry insights on the performance and potential of soybeans in northern and western Canadian climates.

Westward Expansion

The summit showcased initiatives elevating the market position for northern soybeans, while creating a space for industry collaboration in support of expanded market opportunities.

“Focusing on the value our customers see for northern soybeans will bring more opportunities for the value chain, from growers right through to end users,” explained Brian Innes, executive director of Soy Canada, and event host. “Together, we’re working to better understand the value of our northern soybeans and how they can best serve our domestic and international customers.”

In his summit update on soybean expansion in Manitoba, Daryl Domitruk, executive director of Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers (MPSG) reported soybean acres are growing across the province, with approximately 1.6 million acres reported in 2023. He explained more than 100 registered varieties are being tested annually in regional variety trials with 98 per cent reaching full maturity. 

“Our industry is dedicated to continuing research to develop varieties that will serve the westward expansion of soybeans and deliver the quality and consistency required to meet and serve producer and customer needs,” assured Domitruk.

Grower and Industry Insights

The virtual event featured panel discussions with western Canadian soybean growers, exporters and processors. 

Ernie Sirski has also been growing soybeans for 12 years in Dauphin, M.B. The greatest advantage he’s realized is cost savings on fertilizer. As a nitrogen-fixing crop, adding soybeans to his crop rotation pays off in a variety of ways. “Soybeans have been profitable for us, and they break up the disease cycles with wheat and canola, offering another form of economic and management efficiencies.”Brian Innes with Soy Canada

Industry panelists discussed the growing international demand for western Canadian soybeans and their fit as a cost-effective supply for large crush plants. The discussion noted that despite being discounted relative to other soybean origins there is a fit for in the international market for all that Western Canada can produce.

Dale Heide of Delmar Commodities noted variability in protein content and seed size, especially soybeans with extremely low protein, are challenges for both processors and exporters. Soybean merchandisers from Viterra and Paterson Grain also participated in the panel and shared their experience marketing to global customers, including how customers currently perceive western Canadian soybeans. The panel shared that there’s plenty of opportunity for western Canadian soybeans, it’s just a matter of timing with supply from other origins. All panellists agreed that consistency in production volume, seed size and protein are key to maximizing the value of western Canadian soybeans.

Quality and Market Development Research

James House, professor and Manitoba strategic research chair in sustainable protein at the University of Manitoba, also provided an overview of the latest research supported by MPSG on protein quality of Manitoba soybeans, sharing that as protein content declines the amount of critical amino acids important for livestock nutrition goes up. He’s working to develop and evaluate a near-infrared reflectance (NIR) technique for measuring the protein and amino acid content of Manitoba-grown soybeans. While laboratory methods can currently assess the critical amino acid value of soybeans, NIR technology would allow rapid and cost-effective testing for feed formulators.

Jeff Bond, manager of nutrition and business development at PMT, provided his insights on enhancing the value of northern soybean meal. One of the areas Bond focused on was the metabolizable energy value of Manitoba expeller soybean meal in livestock rations, identifying areas for more research to better indicate expected performance to feed formulators. He also presented an assessment of Manitoba soybean meal, livestock nutrient needs and industry feed requirements along with considerations and opportunities for growers and processors.

Looking Ahead

As research continues and new varieties become available to support the expansion of western-grown soybeans, the Canadian industry can expect new growth opportunities throughout the value chain. “Over the next two years we’ll be rolling out more activities to add value to our northern soybeans,” said Innes. “These are exciting times for Canada’s soybean industry.”

National Soy Research Conference