Convinced of soya success in Britain
The UK has a heavy reliance
on imported soya, but it is
a crop some believe we
could grow here.
Jessica Buss reports
GROWING soybeans in the UK has met with variable results, but new varieties may make it more successful.
Thats the view of Simon Broddle, Nickersons forage seeds manager, who is responsible for the soya variety trial at the National Forage Maize Day. Mr Broddle is also a founder of the Soybean Association alongside Leics farm manager Wil Armitage.
Besides the trial at CEDAR, a further variety trial site has been drilled by Nickerson UK at Leeds University. Some plots have also been sown on UK farms for observation, adds Mr Broddle.
"At CEDAR the replicated trial includes 10 soya varieties from breeders around the world, including Europe, USA and Canada."
Varieties on display include Major and Armour from Nickerson UK, Montir, Fefkiv and Casimir from Pioneer, and five numbered mostly test varieties, which are from eastern Europe and Canada. None are genetically modified, he stresses.
Plots were drilled on May 11, using a seed rate of 60 seeds/m sq equivalent to 600,000 seeds/ha (240,000/acre). The seed had a bacterial inoculant of bradyrhizobium japonicum strain added before drilling to encourage the legume to develop nitrogen-fixing root nodules.
Some variety plots on the site will appear better than others. This is because we are still looking for varieties suitable for UK growing conditions, says Mr Broddle.
"The soya market is growing at a fair pace and we will see a relatively quick succession of varieties. This is due to improvements in maturity by plant breeders and selection of suitable varieties for the UK climate." The maturity achieved in UK crops has improved by about month over the last 20 years.
The difficult growing season, resulting in late drilling, and low temperatures means that some varieties may not mature. However Mr Broddle is optimistic that at least some varieties will mature.
But growing the crop successfully requires more than suitable varieties. He says that legumes are complicated to grow with any cost benefit easily lost by poor crop management. Establishing the crop and encouraging nitrogen fixation is critical.
Crops that mature successfully should be ready for harvesting in early to mid-October – they should produce a bean with a protein content of about 40%, a D-value of 70 and an ME of about 16.
Although soy beans contain tannins which make them unsuitable to feed raw to monogastric animals such as pigs, this is less of a concern when feeding soya to ruminants. These unwanted products can be inactivated using heat treatment at high temperatures at a feed processing plant. However it may be possible to achieve the same effect with caustic treatment similar to that used for cereals on many dairy farms, says Mr Broddle.
Listen to Simon Broddle near the soya variety plots at 11am, noon, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.