Several U.S. researchers, led by Ignacio Ciampitti, associate professor of crop production and cropping systems at Kansas State University, collaborated on a research project focused on soybean quality. It clarified several issues related to regional protein concentration and the relationship between protein concentration and yield. The study, “Spatial Characterization of Soybean Yield and Quality (Amino Acids, Oil, and Protein) for United States,” is a meta-analysis of previously generated data funded by the soy checkoff.
“What we are doing is looking at this idea of how we can improve seed quality,” says Ciampitti. “We know that when soybeans have higher yields, such as 60 to 80 bushels per acre, protein levels in those plants decline. As agronomists, we are always trying to improve yields, but at the same time we want to preserve the quality of that seed because that is what end users are buying.”
The project includes researchers at Kansas State University, South Dakota State University, Iowa State University, University of Arkansas, University of Illinois, Purdue University and University of Minnesota, as well as a private consultant in Nebraska.
According to Ciampitti, the findings present room for significant opportunities to improve overall soybean quality.
“We still have a lot to learn about improving quality, but this is a great first step,” he says. “Quality is the result of multiple factors. We need more knowledge to understand the complexity involved in choosing the right variety, using the right management practices under the current environmental conditions.”