Soybean breeding for Flanders

  • Baert, Joost (ProjectSupervisor)
  • Aper, Jonas (Former Project Manager)

Project Details


Main research question/goal
The aim of this research is to initiate a breeding programme for profitable soybean varieties that are adapted to Flemish cultivation conditions. According to the Action Plan for Alternative Protein Sources, the Belgian Compound Feed Industry Association  (BEMEFA) has committed to 100% soybean import from only responsible production by 2015. Furthermore, intensive farms in Flanders must decrease their dependence on protein sources from outside the EU. The local production of adapted soybean varieties fits into this Action Plan. Although soybean cultivation in Flanders will never be completely self-sufficient (soybean import in 2010 was around 800 000 tons), an area of ??10 000 ha (similar to the acreage of pea in Belgium at the end of the 1980s) would already be a considerable production (this represents 5-10% of the target for 2015).

Research approach
We start with a large screening of the existing varieties and genotypes in row plots, sown on different sowing dates. Subsequently, F1-seed of hand-made crosses between the most promising parents leads to pure lines by single seed descent. These lines are tested in yield trials, enabling the selection of candidate varieties for variety testing in Flanders.

Soybean offers a number of advantages compared to forage pea and field bean, such as a higher protein content and a more optimal amino acid composition. Local soybean production may offer opportunities for a wider rotation (with fixation of atmospheric nitrogen), a closed nutrient cycle and reduced transportation costs. There is also a strong demand for GMO free soybean from the organic and human food sectors. ILVO intends to offer the varieties we develop to the seed producers, who it turn commercialise the varieties for the grower. Soybean varieties adapted to the Flemish conditions offer the grower a guarantee for a good crop with high quality.
Effective start/end date1/01/1331/03/21