If a new trend is happening in agriculture, Minnesota soybean farmer Scott Singlestad is one of the first to know about it.

As a soy checkoff farmer leader, he prides himself on knowing about – and using – the latest technology or trait that will benefit his bottom line.

“I’m always looking for the next big yielding soybean variety,” he says. “But in the last few years, I have started looking for soybeans that also have higher protein.”

More than yield

Singlestad makes planting decisions based on more than yield because he understands how soybean composition impacts his bottom line.

“Soybeans with high protein are always in demand, both by the crusher and the export market,” he says. “We might not see it as a premium from the local elevator, but as a better basis in the bid we get from the markets.”

Higher-protein soybeans create more demand, which can increase the price farmers receive.

“Soybeans face competition in the protein market from other crops and synthetic amino acids,” Singlestad says. “We need to focus on growing for quantity and quality to stay competitive in the marketplace.”

Higher protein, better composition

Singlestad looks to maximize his profits with high-protein, high-yield soybeans that garner a premium price.

First, he selects his seed, paying attention to protein and oil rankings. (And yield, of course.)

“If you check the seed book, most soybean companies publish the rankings of the protein and oil,” he says. “Oftentimes, you can select soybeans with better compositional quality than other varieties.”

At harvest time, he reaps the rewards – a higher price at the elevator.

“Programs exist that pay a premium for compositional quality, and I’ve been able to take advantage,” Singlestad says.

Still, he says it isn’t easy.

“Your soybeans have to meet both meal and oil standards to get the price incentive, but if you only meet the standard for meal, then you get nothing,” he says. “But it still pays to look at the seed that you are selecting to grow each year.”

Future focus on composition

Singlestad says he will continue choosing his varieties based on composition because that’s what the end user wants and needs.

“Through continuous improvement and constant innovation, I’m hopeful we can come up with an even better program that would entice more farmers to look for that greater compositional value soybean,” he says.