Now thinking about how much I knew about soybean production or even farming in general 10 years ago I can see that I have learned a lot. However, there is still so much to learn and I am far from an expert on the topic. I do have a desire and willingness to learn though and I would think given another 10 years I could write a whole different post.
Below is what I have learned over the last few years, being involved first hand, seeing some of it through observation or learning from my husband or father-in-law. I hope you enjoy reading!
Let’s start with an interesting fact:
The United States is the leading soybean producer in the world and second-leading exporter.
A look at a general process of producing soybeans.
Like a lot of things in life that take preparation, farming is no exception. There is planning that takes place beforehand. Choosing crops, planning for fertilizer and maybe even prebuying some things to get a better deal on the many inputs that can come in a year. Machinery also needs to be kept up/worked on to help prevent breakdowns for when you are relying on the equipment the most.
After planning and spring comes it is time to prepare the ground. This can look different for every farmer, and some will just seed right into the field without doing any tillage. They call this a no-till farming practice.
One perk of soybeans is they require less fertilizer than other crops. Generally, farmers don’t put down fertilizer for soybeans before they plant. Other crops they do. This is especially true if the soybeans are inoculated before being planted. This is a process where you add bacteria to the seed to help them form nodules that take nitrogen effectively from the air and put it into the soil. This in turn enhances plant growth.
Now for the next step; planting. This is pretty straight forward to say but it is truly a process when that point is reached. Preparing the planter or air seeder, the tractor that pulls it, fueling up, filling the planter, driving to the field, setting the planter to the correct depth, and those are just some of the things that go into it. Once in the field, monitoring it all as you go back and forth in that field making sure it is planted well. GPS has made this job easier, but they used to have to keep the tractor driving straight so that the rows were as straight as possible.
Now with a soybean seed in the ground it is time to nurture it and watch it grow. Watching for aphids and other things that can stunt the growth and yield.
The soybeans have been planned for, planted, have grown and have dried down. Now it’s time to get the combine, grain cart, grain cart tractor, grain trucks, and bins ready to take the soybeans off. This is of course if the weather such as hail didn’t take your crop first. Not the usual but it can happen. Weather is a wild card.
Harvest/fall is my favorite time of year and also one of the busiest. Usually in this part of the process I am planning for longer days at home with the kids, enjoying the fall weather and getting the last of the garden produce taken care of.
Like other commodities you need to market soybeans. Whether that means selling them straight off the field, storing them in a grain bin to sell later or putting them in a contract at the elevator. A farmer watches the markets and hopes to get the best price – one that can make ends meet and cover expenses.
Through the whole planting, growing, harvesting process the weather can and does play a huge role in how the season goes. It is different every year and something we pray frequently about. Prayer should almost have its own section! The weather doesn’t always go well but God is faithful.
A lot of what was talked about I am not directly doing. I try to ride along when I can. I make food when needed and do things that can be done from home. Taking care of kids, cleaning, bookwork, etc. As the kids get older and if I’m needed more this might look different. Time will tell! One of our favorite things to do as a family is to go look at the crops as they are growing – a family crop tour!
Here are some pictures of soybeans last year (2022). I enjoyed soybeans as a crop more last year. We had a couple varieties that we were trying, and it was interesting to see the differences in them.
Soybean uses – these are just a few…there are so many!
- Soybean oil for consumption
- Human consumption- soybean meal – a high protein option
- Tofu, Soymilk, Edamame, Soy Nuts
- Animal feed
Who is the largest soybean producer in the USA?
What is the current soybean price? At the time I posted this, soybeans were at:
- $14.94 /bushel cash price
Do you think soybeans are classified as a pulse?
All this talk about soybeans had me asking this question. I was thinking “Yeah, it probably is.” but actually they are not classified as a Pulse. Soybeans are actually a legume. The same family as the peanut! If you want to learn more about Pulses though you can check this out: The Scoop on Pulses.
Q&A from Instagram Audience
Is soy actually healthy?
There is a lot of talk about how soybeans are unhealthy because of estrogen/hormones. To make a long story short, this has been found to be not true. Soybeans can be a great and healthy addition to your diet, like all things, in moderation.
Is soy a protein source for your diet?
Soy is an excellent option for a plant-based protein. There are 61g in a cup of roasted soybeans. That is a lot! They are a complete protein which means they have the 9 essential amino acids. Soybeans are the only plant food considered a complete protein on its own.
Did you learn anything new about producing soybeans? There is so much more behind the scenes, but I tried to give you a good general look at what a farmer that produces soybeans does to get the job done. Did you want to learn more about any of the topics talked about today? Let me know your thoughts or questions. Comment below!
*Note: This post is intended for the general healthy population. It is not personalized nutrition advice and if you are in need of this, please visit your doctor/health care professional for specific advice. *
And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands. Hebrews 1:10