November 14, 2023


Australia aims to double soybean production in the next decade



Australia's soybean industry is gearing up to double its production over the next decade, focusing on increased plantings and enhanced agronomy practices, Grain Central reported.


Soy Australia, the peak industry body, views this expansion as beneficial for businesses involved in stockfeed and human-consumption products. The industry, traditionally a net importer of soybean meal and soy isolates, aims to strengthen its position by fostering a larger national crop.


Current data from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) reveals soybean cultivation covering 21,000 hectares this summer, expected to yield 40,000 tonnes. Despite a decline from historical highs, soybeans remain crucial for growers across regions from the Riverina in southern New South Wales to Far North Queensland.


The soybean industry's growth strategy involves engaging its first-ever soybean industry development officer, Judy Plath. Plath, an experienced agronomist and soybean grower, aims to raise awareness of agronomic best practices and the economic benefits of soybeans in key growing regions.


While Australia's soybean industry is relatively small globally, it plays a vital role in various farming systems, providing a higher value crop option for growers. Soybeans are used locally in products like soy milk, tofu, tempeh, flour, and grits, and there are significant growth opportunities in international markets such as Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.


Soy Australia emphasises the strong demand for non-GMO Australian-grown soybeans but acknowledges the need to increase production to foster long-term relationships with end-users.


Judy Plath's role includes promoting soybeans as an ideal legume break crop for crops like sugarcane. New soybean varieties, such as Hayman and Burrinjuck, have the potential to encourage their inclusion in rotations.


With soybean prices reaching a 10-year high due to increasing demand outstripping supply, there is a positive outlook for the crop. Farmers, with good water availability, proper nutrition, and regular insect control, can achieve yields ranging from 3 to 3.5 tonnes per hectare, with potential for higher yields under optimal conditions.


Despite potential downgrading factors such as weather damage, low protein, or small seed size, soybeans are in strong demand from both food and feed manufacturers. The industry anticipates further growth, and the soybean breeding programme, supported by levies collected by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), plays a crucial role in ongoing research and development.


-      Grain Central

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