Soybeans Fueling Positive Impact on Livestock Industry

Renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel will have positive impacts on livestock production

The use of soybean oil in renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel will build on soybean oil demand that’s already been created by soy-based biodiesel. Dr. Bob Thaler, interim head and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Animal Science at South Dakota State University, calls that transformational for livestock production. Thaler, also an extension swine specialist, says greater soybean demand means more soybeans grown and processed, resulting in more soybean meal likely at a lower price.

“Some of the projections that we looked at here, it’s certainly not unfeasible to see corn and soybean meal at the same price,” said Thaler, during an interview, “because if you take a look at what it’s going to take, how much soybean oil production we’re going to have to have [to fill that need], it will change the industry. We could see a lot of current corn acres get switched over to soybean acres just simply because there’s more money to be made on that soybean oil going into renewable diesel.”

The South Dakota Soybean Checkoff supports ongoing research into swine physiology on diets higher in soybean meal, which is richer in amino acids and energy. Thaler says the jury’s still out on the research, but he likens it to putting pigs on the Atkins Diet minus the carbohydrate restrictions. That, he said, leads to changes in the composition of already highly valued natural fertilizer.

“We’re going to see a lot more nitrogen in that manure, so excess amino acids are going to be de-aminated, and that nitrogen is going to end up in the manure so that nitrogen to phosphorus ratio in swine manure is going to get much better,” he said. “[There are] more organic nutrients that we can apply and having more nitrogen in swine manure will make it easier to calculate how to use it in a cropping system.”

Swine-generated fertilizer, added Thaler, brings with it a greater degree of sustainability.

“Using livestock manure – swine manure – is one of the best things that’s out there,” said Thaler. “We’re not transporting it 3,000 miles, we’re taking it down two miles from our barn to the field. And again, when you look at utilizing livestock manure, not only are you adding [nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium], but you’re adding all the other microminerals.”