Earliness is the key for UK soya breakthrough

RAGT is trialling two new soya varieties this season to test their suitability for UK conditions.

The crop has traditionally been grown in warmer, drier countries such as the US, Brazil and Argentina, so good vigour and earliness are two key traits that will be required if soybean is to become a reliable break crop for UK growers.

Cyril Gallien, RAGT Seeds’ soybeans product manager, says: “Generally speaking, soybean requires moisture and warm temperatures during its growing cycle.

“It is also important to use certified seed and to sow it into warm soils, preferably towards 10°C, to ensure good emergence and development.

“Varieties also need to mature earlier in more marginal climates, to ensure they can be cut in good condition to preserve yield and quality while fitting into existing rotation patterns.”

The two new varieties, RGT Sigma and RGT Stepa, appear to offer this sort of earliness along with a good yield and protein content.

RGT Sigma

David Ramdhian, head of forage and soil health crops at RAGT Seeds UK, says:

“We will be working with one or two partners looking at on-farm pre-market testing this season, evaluating the varieties’ field performance and their end market use.

“RGT Sigma has tried before on a very small scale and looked good enough to evaluate further. It and RGT Stepa have also shown good earliness and suitable quality in other markets.”

RAGT’s GMO-free soybean breeding programme is based in Gaillac, south west France. It was established in the 1970s and has been targeted mainly at warmer regions of Europe and CIS countries for human consumption and animal feed.

RGT Stepa

Given the effects of climate change, along with RAGT’s breeding efforts, Cyril believes the prospect of growing substantial areas of the crop in northern Europe is now very real.

“Germany is a good example; the country’s soybean area has grown from zero acres in 2012 to reach 34,000ha in 2022,” he says. “We hope this scenario can be repeated in the more maritime climate of the UK.”

UK-grown soya could prove a valuable alternative to oilseed rape and, being guaranteed GM-free, could prove an attractive alternative to imported supplies, both for animal feed and as a valuable source of non-animal protein in the human diet.

To learn more please click here to contact David Ramdhian, head of forage and soil health crops at RAGT Seeds UK to learn more.

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