Checkoff Tool Helps Farmers Improve Quality of U.S. Soybeans

Growing bean varieties with the right balance of protein and oil positively impacts U.S. soy demand and farmer profitability.

Published on: Aug 18, 2010

U.S. soybean farmers get paid for the number of bushels they deliver, but the price paid for each bushel is ultimately based on the protein and oil content of those soybeans. Growing soybean varieties that result in soybeans with the right balance of oil and protein content results in greater demand and higher prices received by all U.S. soybean farmers. The United Soybean Board and soybean checkoff strongly encourage all U.S. soybean farmers to actively seek out U.S. soybean varieties to plant that produce the oil and protein levels demanded by the U.S. soy industry's various customers.

Use this tool to help you choose the right bean varieties to plant

To help farmers find these varieties that also are proven yield leaders, the checkoff developed what is known as the Soybean Quality Toolbox, a free, easy-to-use, interactive Internet-based tool at The toolbox provides access to yield and quality performance records for hundreds of U.S. soybean varieties from land-grant university test plots and Farmer's Independent Research of Seed Technologies test plots throughout 14 different states. These test plots include current and new U.S. soybean varieties from various seed companies.

Farmers who contribute to a higher-quality U.S. soybean crop help improve demand and the price of the soybeans in their area as well as the entire U.S. crop. "The quality of the soybeans in any area will be reflected financially in the basis and in the local prices for that area," says USB domestic marketing chair Lewis Bainbridge, a soybean farmer from Ethan, S.D. "Part of any basis is certainly transportation, but another big part is the quality of the soybeans. Better-quality soybeans will result in a narrower basis."

Compare yield, quality performance of varieties you now plant

Estimated processed value represents the sum of the values of a soybean's components (oil, protein and hulls) and reflects market demand for these components. Checkoff-funded research shows a clear link between EPV and prices farmers receive for their beans. By providing the right balance of oil and protein in a bushel of soybeans, farmers increase the value of those beans.

Soybean farmers can compare the yield and quality performance of varieties they're currently using with other varieties in their area. The Soybean Quality Toolbox helps identify varieties that meet the oil and protein needs of a soybean farmer's customers without sacrificing yield. Farmers can find these high-yielding and high-quality varieties and ask their seed dealers about them.

Registered users of the checkoff website can save their favorite varieties on the Toolbox, making them easy to find the next time they log on.

Quality of the crop affects overall demand for U.S. soybeans

According to Bainbridge, the quality of the total U.S. soybean crop affects overall demand for U.S. soy and the bottom lines of all U.S. soybean farmers. "We still get paid on yield, but, to help increase the price per bushel, we have to give buyers what they want, and they want better quality," he says. "For all the soybeans that are exported or processed into animal feed, we have to improve the quality of our soybeans. The Soybean Quality Toolbox makes it easy to find varieties that will help us do that."

International buyers consistently use about every other row of U.S. soybeans, and U.S. livestock and poultry producers use nearly 98% of the domestic supply of soybean meal. These markets represent the U.S. soybean industry's two biggest customers, and both demand soybeans with at least 19% oil and 35% protein, the combination that will produce high-protein meal. "Our customers care about the quality of our soybeans more than the quantity, and if they can get what they need from someone else, they certainly will," says Bainbridge.

USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Ag Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.