November 13, 2019


US soybean producer cited for producing high-value livestock feed


Clark County soybean producer Don Guinnip has been cited by the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) High Yield PLUS Quality (HY+Q) programme for consistently producing soybeans that rank very high in livestock feed value.

Guinnip, who farms in the Wabash River Valley near Marshall, Illinois, the United States, makes it standard operating procedure to know the nutritional makeup of the soybeans he grows. This knowledge, he feels, is essential to meeting the specific needs of the soybean industry's largest and most important customer - the livestock producer. Livestock consume more than 70% of the US soybean crop every year.

"Knowing the value of your soybeans doesn't just mean having a handle on yield, protein and oil," Guinnip said. "It also includes knowing the levels of seven essential amino acids that—more than anything else-determine true livestock feed value and drive market demand."

The HY+Q initiative is a checkoff-funded ISA programme that has analysed six years of data provided by the US Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and United Soybean Board (USB). USSEC manages and funds the sampling programme, which provides farmers with variety-specific livestock feed value scores based on HY+Q analysis of harvest samples by the University of Minnesota and cross checking of the data by the University of Missouri. Results demonstrate that soybean growers do not have to sacrifice yield to achieve quality. Both can be obtained with deliberate variety selection.

Guinnip has submitted soybean samples for nutritional analysis for seven years. His 2018 sample of Stine Seed Company variety 38LE02 yielded a composite feed value of US$347.40 per tonne, putting him in the top 15 growers in Illinois for feed value.

"I try to be a responsible soybean grower, and we need to do everything we can to please our livestock customers," Guinnip said. "Knowing the nutritional composition of my soybeans is important. I want to know protein content, oil yield and amino acid profiles. I want a history so I can make better soybean variety selections and have field-by-field comparisons of how those varieties perform."

Guinnip said he often lays out and studies programme sample results cards, making year-to-year and field-to-field comparisons. "I am building a database of this information," said the farmer, who routinely spreads his risk by planting early-group 3, mid-group 3 and early-group 4 soybeans.  "This type of data needs to be in seed catalogs, but it isn't."

The farmer adds that he has had particularly good luck with Stine Seed Company soybean varieties where livestock nutritional value is concerned. Some of his most-recent, top-performing Stine varieties include 34LE32, 31LE32 and 34BA20, in addition to 38LE02.

Tom Murphy, a neighboring farmer who operates a Stine seed-conditioning plant in Marshall, works closely with Guinnip on soybean variety selection and tracking varietal performance. The two producers have also collaborated on various seed-production projects.

"Don is a very skilled and detail-oriented farmer," Murphy said. "He knows that the smaller, family-owned seed companies tend to pay more attention to quality characteristics in their product portfolios than some of the major players in the seed market."

Austin Rincker, an ISA director and soybean-livestock producer in Moweaqua, said that choosing soybean varieties that best serve livestock producers is an important action that farmers can take to maximise US feed-market opportunities.

"Growing high-quality soybeans helps protect our markets from use of synthetic feed ingredients and competition from other countries - most notably South America," Rincker said. "There are also potential cost and environmental benefits associated with growing higher-value soybeans throughout the soybean value chain."

The HY+Q programme offers farmers a database of 768 soybean varieties with rankings based on the amino acids used by livestock nutritionists to calculate rations.

- Illinois Soybean Association