Soybean has become more than just a food crop. Its significance and applications have extended towards providing solutions beyond food security. Before delving into how soybean will change the ways, things will operate in the future, have a glimpse of what it is. Soybean is a processed commodity grown mainly in the USA, Argentina, and Brazil. It is among the top crop commodities in production, utility, and trade. It is grown purposely for human consumption, but its use has extended to animal feeds source of fuel, among other applications.
More research and development are going into these areas to boost soybean value addition. Some of the significant trends that will highly impact future developments in soy protein research include; fabricated feeds and food from soybean and soybean derivatives. With technologies like extrusion processing and modified and controlled atmospheric packaging, soy is here to stay. Let us look at each of the in perspective.
1. Rising Focus on High-Quality Soybean meal and Oil
Sustainable soy is very crucial in the production and processing of soy meals. The two main products when processing soybeans are soybean meal and soybean oil. As much as some possess the potential to be a good source of plant protein, they may contain anti-nutritional factors. In this area, research and development are extensively conducted to make high-quality soybean oil and meal. Some soybean processors have begun assessing soy products for chemical and physical characteristics like carbohydrates, fat, ash, and moisture content. If they do not meet the quality standards, corrective measures are undertaken.
Additionally, technology also plays a critical role in the development of high-quality soybean meal and Oil. Some processing technologies and techniques used to remove the anti-nutritional factors in soybeans are; germination, fermentation, autoclaving, and soaking, among others. More research on how to improve the methods is underway.
2. Soybean for Alternative Fuel
With the ever-rising prices of gasoline and the need to reduce gas emissions, soya beans stick out as one of the ultimate solutions of the future. Although the production of fuel from soybean has not been heavily commercialized yet, trials have been done on the same. An example of such a trial is when in 2019, the Office of the Franklin County Engineer started to convert the fleet’s diesel-powered equipment and vehicles to biodiesel. That is not the only one trying out soybean biodiesel.
Others include the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) and the City of Columbus. They have made great strides in transitioning their fleets to biodiesel. With this kind of trend, soybean as fuel will be a major area of research and development in the future.
3. Improving Production Quantity
As the world’s population continues to rise, the demand for protein also rises. Since soybean is a good alternative protein source, there is a need to match the production with the demand. So, how has that been achieved? Although the production of soybeans is not yet at a sufficient target, great strides have been made.
One of them is the increment of the distribution of new soybean varieties through the development of seed breeders at a farmer’s level. However, that is not the only solution that is being developed. Others include the improvement of soybean selling prices, utilization of potential land, improvement of production processes, crop intensification, and the consistency of programs.
4. Improving the Revenue Streams for Soy Farmers
The backbone of the soybean supply is the small-scale and medium-scale soy farmers. Since the cost of soybean production continues to rise, the profit margin for farmers diminishes. Therefore, future research will look into the development of affordable inputs and methods of production. Another area to look into is how farmers can benefit more from soy products.
That is through implementing economies of scope instead of economies of scale. Economies of scope rely mainly on managing diverse enterprises to reduce the cost of off-farm inputs and access more profitable markets. More research is being conducted in that area.
5. Increasing the Global Competition for Soy
Another future trend would be to answer the question, ‘how can the global competition for soy be increased?’ Currently, the major players are USA, Argentina, and Brazil. That is awesome, but it would be more worthwhile if more players on the global scale would jump in.
It would be prudent to influence the countries that can grow soybeans but not to join the big players and start producing. That will help to increase competition, thus improving the quality and supply of soya beans.
6. Fabricated Feeds and Food from Soybean and Soybean Derivatives
The future of soybean technological advances is also heavily on soybean derivatives. Scientists have discovered and continue to unravel such derivatives as isoflavones.
Isoflavones, for instance, have been known to boost or improve growth, enhance tissue growth in pigs, and help prevent disease spread. In that breadth, the scientist will, in the future, focus on processing soybean and their by-products for specific purposes. What is the significance of that? That will allow the use of soybean by-products by all classes of animals ranging from monogastric food animals to aquatic types.
7. Modified and Controlled Atmospheric Packaging
Another domain that researchers will develop in the future is soybean packaging technologies. With poor storage, a lot of things could go wrong with soybeans. Some storage packaging could accelerate the mass and energy exchange between the storage medium and the stored seeds. Technological packaging for soybean seeds will develop to ensure the quality of seeds over a huge period.
Since soybean has become a crucial food crop, there is a heavy investment to improve its production and value addition. A lot has been achieved already, as demonstrated above. However, more research and development are needed in the same area. It is crucial to understand that the areas discussed above will catapult the development of quality soybeans for consumption and to solve the climate change problem.