Soybean

What is Soybean?

Soybean, scientifically known as Glycine max, is a legume native to East Asia and is widely cultivated for its versatile uses and nutritional benefits. It is a high-yielding crop that belongs to the family Fabaceae. Soybeans are annual plants that can reach heights of up to 2 meters. The plant has trifoliate leaves and produces clusters of pods containing two or three beans each.

Soybeans are known for their high protein content and are considered a complete protein source, containing all the essential amino acids required by the human body. They also provide significant amounts of dietary fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Soybeans contain natural plant compounds called isoflavones, which act as phytoestrogens and have been associated with various health benefits.

Culturally and economically, soybeans play a significant role in various regions worldwide. They are a staple food in many Asian countries, where they are used to make soy milk, tofu, and other soy-based products. Additionally, soybeans have become a major crop for oil extraction, animal feed, and biofuel production due to their high oil content. The versatility of soybeans extends beyond food, with applications in industries such as cosmetics, plastics, adhesives, and lubricants.

Soybeans have been cultivated for thousands of years and continue to be a valuable and widely grown crop due to their nutritional profile, versatility, and economic importance. The demand for soybeans and soy-based products has increased globally, contributing to their widespread cultivation and consumption. Whether used as a source of protein, oil or as an ingredient in various products, soybeans have become an essential component of our modern agricultural and industrial systems.

Soybean Production in the World

Brazil is the top country producing Soybeans in the world. As of 2022, Brazil produced 120,701,031 tonnes of Soybeans, accounting for 34.60% of the total production. The United States of America is the world's second-largest Soybean producer, with 116,377,000 tonnes, which represents 33.36% of the total production. In terms of Soybean yield, Uganda is the most productive country on the planet with 67,970. Argentina, China, and India are the top three leading countries with '43,861,066', '20,280,000', '12,986,720', and '6,543,158' tonnes respectively. Suriname has the lowest production of soybeans in the world with only 4 tonnes in 2022. The world's total production of soybeans was estimated at 348,856,427 tonnes in 2022.

Source: FAOSTAT

Top 10 Countries by Soybean Production in 2022

Top Countries by Production of Soybean in 2022

Rank Country production(Tonnes) acreage(Hectare) Yield
1
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Brazil
120,701,03140,894,96829,515
2
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United States of America
116,377,00034,939,32033,308
3
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Argentina
43,861,06615,874,26627,630
4
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China
20,280,00010,240,00019,805
5
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India
12,986,72012,146,58010,692
6
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Canada
6,543,1582,118,00030,893
7
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Russian Federation
6,003,1533,355,98417,888
8
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Paraguay
4,532,1033,519,85012,876
9
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Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
3,457,1441,524,79422,673
10
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Ukraine
3,443,8001,527,20022,550
11
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South Africa
1,148,300925,30012,410
12
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Nigeria
1,060,0001,100,0009,636
13
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Italy
943,400342,53027,542
14
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Uruguay
647,8301,009,8996,415
15
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Zambia
475,353374,71312,686
16
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Serbia
398,556235,27516,940
17
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France
375,820183,91020,435
18
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Benin
306,198281,09510,893
19
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Indonesia
301,000202,12614,892
20
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Romania
258,530135,85019,031
21
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Kazakhstan
250,385127,99219,563
22
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Austria
248,42093,73026,504
23
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Japan
242,800151,60016,016
24
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Mexico
241,371113,30621,303
25
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Togo
236,450231,72010,204
26
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Malawi
220,000215,00010,233
27
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Iran (Islamic Republic of)
210,00086,00024,419
28
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Ghana
200,000115,00017,391
29
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Croatia
194,77090,67021,481
30
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Ethiopia
190,00072,00026,389
31
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Democratic People's Republic of Korea
180,000156,00011,538
32
Flag
Türkiye
155,00038,00940,780
33
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Burkina Faso
152,540132,52811,510
34
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Colombia
141,98754,72225,947
35
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Uganda
140,00020,59767,970
36
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Hungary
134,47066,28020,288
37
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Myanmar
131,223126,81710,347
38
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Republic of Korea
129,92563,95620,315
39
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Germany
120,50051,50023,398
40
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Slovakia
98,76066,65014,818
41
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Bangladesh
98,64658,56416,844
42
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Cameroon
97,70357,45017,007
43
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Czechia
65,54028,54022,964
44
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Australia
57,20025,50022,431
45
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Cambodia
56,43636,19415,592
46
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Vietnam
52,14632,41316,088
47
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Zimbabwe
51,40838,17713,466
48
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Mozambique
50,00040,00012,500
49
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Poland
43,78018,34023,871
50
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Guatemala
43,00017,00025,294
51
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Bosnia and Herzegovina
42,64214,21430,000
52
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The United Republic of Tanzania
41,06935,22511,659
53
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Egypt
38,00013,00029,231
54
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Angola
37,37436,26310,306
55
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Nepal
35,13824,92114,100
56
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Uzbekistan
34,86212,38528,150
57
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Rwanda
34,05665,2595,219
58
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Republic of Moldova
32,40025,30012,806
59
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Ecuador
29,45422,11313,320
60
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Belize
27,13514,62118,559
61
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Democratic Republic of the Congo
27,00751,0005,295
62
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Thailand
20,80212,46216,693
63
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Mali
20,07034,1465,878
64
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Lao People's Democratic Republic
14,7728,12518,181
65
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Bulgaria
10,1809,50010,716
66
Flag
Nicaragua
10,0004,00025,000
67
Flag
Switzerland
6,1752,89521,330
68
Flag
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
6,0914,57113,326
69
Flag
Slovenia
5,3402,33022,918
70
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El Salvador
5,2052,71819,151
71
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Taiwan
5,0003,00016,667
72
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Gabon
3,9324,5578,630
73
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Sri Lanka
3,8421,93119,896
74
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Spain
3,7901,33028,496
75
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Liberia
3,3487,9264,225
76
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Kyrgyzstan
3,0761,66818,441
77
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Georgia
3,0001,00030,000
78
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Burundi
2,4104,7465,077
79
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Syrian Arab Republic
2,3501,33017,669
80
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Lithuania
2,2902,04011,225
81
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Kenya
2,0002,0079,966
82
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Honduras
1,61979520,353
83
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Peru
1,59683119,216
84
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Morocco
1,0001,00010,000
85
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Cuba
1,00040025,000
86
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Timor-Leste
8219148,983
87
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Albania
68623928,703
88
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Greece
6801,2805,313
89
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Philippines
62644014,225
90
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Côte d'Ivoire
57539214,642
91
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Panama
982743,588
92
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North Macedonia
734316,694
93
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Bhutan
58648,951
94
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Madagascar
46776,007
95
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Iraq
33418,056
96
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Azerbaijan
30545,560
97
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Tajikistan
21633,275
98
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Luxembourg
201020,000
99
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Pakistan
9146,429
100
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Suriname
4411,733

Cultivation of Soybean

Soybean cultivation is a widespread agricultural practice due to the versatility and economic value of soybeans. Here's an overview of the cultivation process for soybeans:

  1. Climate and Soil Requirements: Soybeans are warm-season crops that require a frost-free growing season of about 100 to 120 days. They prefer temperatures between 20°C and 30°C (68°F and 86°F) during the growing season. Additionally, soybeans grow best in well-drained, fertile soils with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.
  2. Variety Selection: Choose soybean varieties that are adapted to your specific climate, soil conditions, and intended use. There are different varieties available, including those for grain production, forage production, or specific traits such as disease resistance.
  3. Land Preparation: Prepare the land by removing any existing vegetation and tilling the soil to create a fine seedbed. This helps with seed-to-soil contact and allows the roots to penetrate the soil easily.
  4. Planting: Soybeans can be planted directly into the field as seeds or as seedlings, depending on farming practices and regional conditions. The recommended planting depth is about 2.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inches) deep, depending on soil moisture and texture. Row spacing varies but is commonly around 60 cm (24 inches) to allow for machinery access during cultivation and harvesting.
  5. Fertilization: Conduct soil tests to determine the nutrient requirements of your soil. Soybeans generally require nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, with specific amounts varying depending on soil conditions. Fertilizers can be applied before planting or during the growing season to meet the crop's nutrient needs.
  6. Weed Control: Effective weed control is crucial for soybean cultivation as weeds can compete with soybeans for nutrients, water, and sunlight. Weed management can involve various techniques, including mechanical cultivation, hand weeding, mulching, and herbicide application. It's essential to follow recommended practices and use approved herbicides to prevent damage to soybean plants.
  7. Irrigation: Soybeans have moderate water requirements, and irrigation may be necessary during dry periods to ensure proper plant growth and pod development. The frequency and amount of irrigation depend on factors such as rainfall patterns, soil moisture retention, and local conditions.
  8. Disease and Pest Management: Soybeans can be susceptible to various diseases and pests, including soybean rust, root rot, aphids, and caterpillars. Implement integrated pest management strategies that combine cultural practices, resistant varieties, biological control agents, and, if necessary, approved pesticides to manage these challenges effectively.
  9. Harvesting: Soybeans are typically ready for harvest when the leaves turn yellow, and the pods have matured. The moisture content of the seeds should be around 13% or lower for safe storage. Harvesting can be done using combine harvesters, which separate the seeds from the plants. The harvested soybeans can be used for various purposes, including food production, livestock feed, or processing into oil and other soy-based products.
  10. Crop Rotation: To maintain soil health and reduce the risk of disease and pest buildup, it's beneficial to practice crop rotation. Rotating soybeans with other crops like corn, wheat, or cover crops helps break disease and pest cycles and improves soil fertility.

Remember, specific cultivation practices may vary depending on the region, climate, and farming systems. It's always advisable to consult with local agricultural experts or extension services for the best recommendations suited to your area.

Health Benefits of Soybean

Soybeans are highly nutritious and offer several health benefits when incorporated into a balanced diet. Here are some of the key health benefits of soybeans:

  1. Excellent Protein Source: Soybeans are considered a complete protein source as they contain all the essential amino acids needed by the body. They are particularly beneficial for individuals following vegetarian or vegan diets, as soybeans provide a plant-based protein alternative to animal sources.
  2. Heart Health: Soybeans are rich in unsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. These fats help reduce LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) levels and maintain healthy blood lipid profiles, reducing the risk of heart disease and promoting cardiovascular health.
  3. Weight Management: Soybeans are relatively low in calories and high in protein and dietary fiber. The combination of protein and fiber helps promote satiety, making you feel fuller for longer and potentially aiding in weight management by reducing overall calorie intake.
  4. Bone Health: Soybeans contain significant amounts of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, all of which contribute to maintaining strong and healthy bones. Additionally, soybeans are one of the few plant-based sources of calcium, making them beneficial for individuals following a vegan or lactose-free diet.
  5. Menopausal Symptoms: Soybeans contain natural plant compounds called isoflavones, specifically genistein and daidzein, which act as phytoestrogens. These compounds have been reported to alleviate menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, due to their estrogen-like effects.
  6. Digestive Health: The dietary fiber content in soybeans promotes healthy digestion and helps prevent constipation. It can also contribute to a healthy gut microbiota, supporting overall digestive health.
  7. Blood Sugar Control: Soybeans have a low glycemic index, meaning they cause a slower and more gradual increase in blood sugar levels compared to high-glycemic foods. This characteristic can be beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those aiming to manage blood sugar levels.
  8. Antioxidant Properties: Soybeans contain various antioxidants, including isoflavones and vitamin E, which help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. Antioxidants play a role in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, thereby contributing to overall health and potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

It's important to note that individual responses to soybean consumption may vary. Some individuals may have soy allergies or intolerances, and excessive consumption of soy products may not be suitable for everyone. If you have specific health concerns or conditions, it's always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized dietary advice.

Nutritional Information of Soybean

Soybeans are highly nutritious and offer a wide range of essential nutrients. Here is the nutritional profile of cooked soybeans per 100 grams:

  • Calories: 173 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 9.9 grams
    • Dietary fiber: 6 grams
    • Sugars: 3.2 grams
  • Protein: 16.6 grams
  • Fat: 9 grams
    • Saturated fat: 1.3 grams
    • Monounsaturated fat: 2.2 grams
    • Polyunsaturated fat: 4.8 grams
  • Vitamin K: 47 μg (59% of the daily value)
  • Vitamin B6: 0.4 mg (21% of the daily value)
  • Folate: 165 μg (41% of the daily value)
  • Thiamin: 0.2 mg (14% of the daily value)
  • Riboflavin: 0.2 mg (12% of the daily value)
  • Niacin: 1.1 mg (6% of the daily value)
  • Vitamin C: 6 mg (10% of the daily value)
  • Manganese: 1.7 mg (85% of the daily value)
  • Iron: 3.6 mg (20% of the daily value)
  • Phosphorus: 194 mg (19% of the daily value)
  • Potassium: 515 mg (15% of the daily value)
  • Magnesium: 70 mg (18% of the daily value)
  • Calcium: 102 mg (10% of the daily value)
  • Copper: 0.4 mg (19% of the daily value)
  • Zinc: 2.1 mg (14% of the daily value)

Soybeans are particularly notable for their high protein content, making them a valuable plant-based protein source. They provide all the essential amino acids required by the body, making them a complete protein.

Additionally, soybeans are a good source of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and helps maintain bowel regularity.

Soybeans also contain significant amounts of healthy unsaturated fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fats are beneficial for heart health and contribute to a balanced lipid profile.

Furthermore, soybeans are rich in various vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K, folate, manganese, iron, and phosphorus. They also provide important antioxidants like isoflavones, which have been associated with several health benefits.

It's worth noting that the nutritional composition of soybeans can vary slightly depending on the variety, cooking method, and preparation.

Regional Variety of Soybean

Soybean varieties can vary by region due to differences in climate, growing conditions, and local preferences. Here are some regional soybean varieties and their common uses:

  1. North America: Midwestern Varieties (e.g., Pioneer 93M90, Asgrow AG2535): These varieties are commonly grown in the Midwestern United States, known as the "Corn Belt." They are primarily used for grain production, providing a reliable source of soybeans for food, feed, and oil extraction.
  2. South America: Brazilian Varieties (e.g., Embrapa BRS 284, Monsoy 8001): Brazil is a major soybean-producing country. Brazilian varieties are cultivated for grain production, contributing to the global soybean market. The soybeans are used for oil production, livestock feed, and export.
  3. East Asia: Japanese Varieties (e.g., Fukuyutaka, Enrei): In Japan, soybeans are grown for different purposes. Fukuyutaka soybeans are often used for making tofu and soy milk, while Enrei soybeans are preferred for traditional fermented soybean products like miso and natto.
  4. Southeast Asia: Indonesian Varieties (e.g., Grobogan, Wilis): In Indonesia, soybeans are commonly used for traditional food products like tempeh. Varieties such as Grobogan and Wilis are specifically selected for their suitability in tempeh production.
  5. China: Huanghuai Varieties (e.g., Heihe 43, Dongnong 42): Huanghuai varieties are widely grown in the Huang-Huai-Hai region of China. These soybeans are primarily used for grain production and oil extraction, as well as being an important component of animal feed.
  6. India: Pusa varieties (e.g., Pusa 16, Pusa 20): Pusa soybean varieties are developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI). These varieties are cultivated in various states of India and are used for grain production, oil extraction, and animal feed.
  7. Africa: Nigerian Varieties (e.g., TGx 1987-10F, TGx 1448-2E): Soybeans are gaining importance in African countries like Nigeria. Nigerian varieties are selected for their adaptability to local conditions and are used for food production, oil extraction, and animal feed.

These are just a few examples of regional soybean varieties and their common uses. Soybeans are cultivated in many other regions worldwide, each with its unique varieties and applications based on local agriculture, culinary traditions, and market demands.

Structure of Soybean

The structure of a soybean plant is similar to that of other legume crops. It is an annual plant that grows to a height of 2 to 6 feet and has leaves that are arranged alternately along the stem. The leaves are typically green and compound, consisting of multiple smaller leaflets.

The soybean plant produces flowers that are typically yellow or white and arranged in clusters along the stem. These flowers are followed by the development of pods, which contain seeds (soybeans). The seeds are oval-shaped and typically yellow or green.

The root system of the soybean plant is made up of a primary taproot and a network of secondary roots. The taproot helps the plant to absorb water and nutrients from deep in the soil, while the secondary roots help to anchor the plant and absorb water and nutrients closer to the soil surface.

Overall, the structure of the soybean plant is well adapted to grow in a range of environments and is an important crop for many farmers and producers worldwide.

The structure of soybean can be broken down into several parts:

  1. Seed coat: The outer layer of the soybean is called the seed coat, which protects the inner parts of the bean.
  2. Cotyledon: The cotyledon is part of the soybean that contains most of the nutrients, including protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Soybean usually have two cotyledons, which are attached to the embryo.
  3. Embryo: The embryo is the small, undeveloped plant that is contained within the soybean. It consists of a radicle (the future root of the plant), a hypocotyl (the stem of the future plant), and two small leaves called cotyledons.
  4. Hilum: The hilum is the scar on the soybean where it was attached to the pod or stem. This is where the soybean was connected to the rest of the plant.

Types of Soybean

There are several different types of soybeans, each with its characteristics and uses. Here are some of the common types of soybeans:

  1. Yellow Soybeans: Yellow soybeans are the most widely cultivated and consumed variety of soybeans. They have a yellow or golden color and are used for various purposes, including making soybean oil, soy milk, tofu, and other soy-based products.
  2. Green Soybeans (Edamame): Green soybeans, also known as edamame, are harvested at an immature stage when the beans are still green and soft. They are commonly consumed as a snack or used in salads, stir-fries, and other dishes. Edamame is often boiled or steamed before consumption.
  3. Black Soybeans: Black soybeans have a darker seed coat compared to other varieties. They are known for their higher antioxidant content and are often used in traditional Chinese medicine. Black soybeans are typically used in cooking and can be made into various dishes, including soups, stews, and fermented soybean products.
  4. High-Oil Soybeans: High-oil soybeans have been bred to have a higher oil content compared to standard soybeans. They are primarily used for oil extraction due to their increased oil yield. The oil from high-oil soybeans is commonly used in cooking, baking, and as an ingredient in various food products.
  5. Non-GMO Soybeans: Non-GMO soybeans are genetically unmodified varieties that have not been genetically engineered. They are often sought after by consumers looking for non-genetically modified organisms in their food. Non-GMO soybeans are used in a wide range of applications, including tofu, soy milk, and other soy-based products.
  6. Specialty Varieties: There are also specialty soybean varieties that have specific characteristics or are bred for certain uses. For example, there are soybean varieties bred for high protein content, disease resistance, or specific industrial applications.

It's important to note that soybean varieties can vary based on factors such as region, climate, and intended use. Farmers and agricultural researchers continually develop and introduce new soybean varieties with improved traits and adaptability to specific conditions.

Uses of Soybean

Soybeans have a wide range of uses and are utilized in various industries and products. Here are some of the common uses of soybeans:

  1. Food Products:

    Soybeans are a versatile ingredient in the food industry. They are processed into numerous food products, including:

    • Tofu: A popular soy-based product made from curdling soy milk and pressing the resulting curds into solid blocks.
    • Soy Milk: A plant-based alternative to dairy milk, made by soaking, grinding, and straining soybeans.
    • Soy Sauce: A condiment made by fermenting soybeans with salt and other ingredients.
    • Edamame: Immature green soybeans commonly consumed as a snack or used in salads and stir-fries.
    • Tempeh: A traditional Indonesian fermented soybean product that can be used in various dishes.
    • Soy Flour: Ground soybeans are used as a baking ingredient or as a protein supplement in foods.
    • Soybean Oil: Extracted from soybeans, it is a commonly used cooking oil worldwide.
  2. Animal Feed: Soybeans are a valuable source of protein and energy for livestock and poultry. They are processed into soybean meal, which is a primary component of animal feed. Soybean meal is highly nutritious and provides essential amino acids, making it an important feed ingredient for livestock, poultry, and aquaculture.
  3. Biofuels: Soybean oil can be converted into biodiesel, a renewable and environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based diesel fuel. Biodiesel derived from soybean oil can be blended with conventional diesel fuel or used as a standalone fuel in diesel engines.
  4. Industrial Products:

    Soybeans have industrial applications and are used in the production of various products, including:

    • Adhesives: Soybean oil-based adhesives are used in the production of plywood, particleboard, and other wood products.
    • Plastics and Resins: Soy-based plastics and resins can be used as an alternative to petroleum-based materials.
    • Lubricants: Soybean oil is utilized in the manufacturing of environmentally friendly lubricants and hydraulic fluids.
    • Printing Inks: Soybean oil is used in the production of soy-based printing inks, which are more environmentally friendly than traditional petroleum-based inks.
  5. Personal Care and Cosmetics: Soybean derivatives, such as soy protein and soybean oil, are used in various personal care and cosmetic products. They can be found in skincare products, hair care products, soaps, lotions, and more, due to their moisturizing and emollient properties.

These are just a few examples of the many uses of soybeans. The versatility and nutritional benefits of soybeans have made them an important crop with wide-ranging applications across industries.