Below is a collection of research materials related to the work done by our science team.  We will continue to add new materials, as they are identified, so check back often.

Please feel free to contact us for more information about any of our scientific endeavors.

Natural Feed Reduces Livestock GHGs

Since 1990, distillers dried grains with solubles and synthetic amino acids have replaced soybeans and corn in livestock feed. This trend impacts lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production, in addition to family farm revenue. A 2020 Argonne laboratory study found greenhouse gases and carbon intensity are significantly higher with synthetic feed compared to natural ingredients. This finding matters to sustainability managers because about 90% of GHG emissions from pigs and poultry come from producing the feed.

Characterizing Soybean Meal Value Variation across the United States: A Swine Case Study

by Spyridon Mourtzinis, Barton S. Borg, Seth L. Naeve, John Osthus, and Shawn P. Conley

Abstract: Soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] is the most important oilseed crop in the United States; however, the quality characteristics of the soybean meal (SBM) produced from soybean grown in various regions can vary significantly, often leading to region-specific commodity price differentials. Currently, a fast, cost-effective, and accurate estimation method of SBM value does not exist. Our objectives were to (i) develop a model using existing data that precisely estimates SBM value targeted for swine nutrition, (ii) quantify the swine-specific SBM value variability within and among states and (iii) evaluate the predictive effectiveness of the model for estimating SBM value. The compositional characteristics of 8282 soybean samples from 2013 to 2016 in 29 states were determined. Assuming constant energy content, considering meal protein content and the concentrations of four essential amino acids (AA) (lysine [Lys], methionine [Met], tryptophan [Tryp], and isoleucine [Iso]) from these samples, a model that precisely estimates swine-specific SBM value was developed. Within each state, US$17 to $66 t–1 SBM value range was estimated. A model based on combined and maturity group-specific analysis showed that using a simple base-line seed content of >350 g kg–1 for protein and >190 g kg–1 for oil to identify high-quality cultivars can be misleading and that the proposed model can estimate swine-specific SBM value more precisely, both locally and regionally. This method can also be used for other, economic important animal diets (e.g., poultry) which could help U.S. soybean producers choose high-yielding cultivars that are more likely to produce seed with increased ration-specific SBM value.

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Increasing Soybean Meal Protein Level Reduces GHG Emissions (poster)

Soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] is the most important oilseed crop in the United States. However, soybean protein content has been declining for decades, and a comprehensive ecosystem-based approach to address that decline does not exist.  Furthermore, feed production comprises about 90 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from pig and poultry production, so improving soybean meal protein has significant farm revenue and emissions implications.

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Scientists Find Giant Leap Forward in Family Farm and Global Food Sustainability (brochure)

Independent university and industry scientists have discovered a breakthrough way for farmers and food companies to improve farm sector revenue and food sustainability GHG metrics, starting with soybean variety selection. In 2017, agriculture statisticians and nutritionists developed a way to know which soybeans have the highest nutritional value in live stock feed. In 2021, the team pieced separate data together and found a hidden secret to reversing decades of sliding soybean protein and improving sustainability metrics: Corn and soybeans naturally work together in livestock diets to reduce livestock GHG emissions. Because soybeans and corn are the ‘feed foundation’ of the global livestock system, this finding can help improve future family farm revenue and food system sustainability.

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Food and Energy Leadership Starts with a Seed and the Feed (presentation)


  • Consolidate and quantify sustainability, carbon footprint, nitrogen, and protein availability to move beyond commodity basis.
  • Science is available but not implemented – Yet.
  • The global food supply can be improved with management of natural protein within current agriculture system (soybeans for protein; grains for energy).
  • Encourage best management practices to reward quality standards without losing tons.
  • Science team “asks” to support USDA mission success

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