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The King of Proteins

Posted on: August 28, 2014 Author:


Changes in market demand always have a big impact on commodity production. From the looks of it, the market is showing an increase in protein demand. As we see this trend, soybeans, AKA “The King of Protein,” are becoming an increasingly important crop.

Soybean production today sees many varieties. Soybean protein and oil content can vary dramatically because of many of the following factors:

  • Growing season (temperature, frost, etc.)
  • Variety
  • Non-GMO vs Round-Up Ready
  • Growing region

Have you ever wondered why some solvent extracted soybean meal manufacturers in certain regions guarantee lower protein than others? Some soy processors have lowered their protein guarantee for High-Pro de-hulled SBM (soybean meal.) There is a good reason for this. The trend is simply due to lower protein in the soybeans that are grown today.

When I first started in the feed business in 1988, it was accepted that the average raw protein content was 38% protein and average oil content was around 18%. Today, in central Iowa, the average raw protein and oil content of soybeans are much closer to 35% protein and 19% oil. Of course from 1995 to present day, GMO (Round-Up resistant) soybeans have gained a 90% market share.

Some might say that the popular herbicide resistant soybeans have been a terrific technological advancement in crop production. Others argue that there has always been a yield drag and seed costs (tech fees) are higher compared to traditional, non-GMO varieties. Others are concerned that consuming meat, milk, and eggs from livestock that were fed glyphosate (Round-Up) infested soybeans is a risky proposition.

Whether you are in favor of or against GMO soybeans and other crops, one thing is absolutely true. Soybeans grown today have lower protein units than in the past. There is also a more intensified debate over how GMO technologies might be affecting animals and ultimately humans. It is also safe to make the general observation that non-GMO soy varieties have higher protein than their GMO glyphosate-resistant counterparts.

I have personally tested non-GMO soybean samples with as high as 44% raw crude protein and 18% oil. All of the soybean seed companies have done impressive work developing varieties that can adapt and thrive in both cool and dry growing regions.

For example, I can remember the days when it was rare to see soybeans grown north of Fargo, North Dakota. Last year, I visited a Huterrite Colony in Canada growing soy with 50 bushels per acre yields, and this was north of Winnipeg, Manitoba. In fact, their northern-most soybean field bordered the Canadian Bush Country.

Ultimately, the consumers of milk, meat and eggs will decide what type of soy they prefer to consume.  Two things, however, are clear: the “King of Proteins” has a bright future, whether we continue to see a GMO-trend or continue with the traditional, non-GMO crops and high sheer extrusion can add value to both.

Cooling Conveyors: A Simple Solution

Posted on: August 21, 2014 Author:


As the R&D Extrusion specialist, I like to cover subjects that are relevant to current extrusion operations. Oftentimes, we will be in contact with a number of customers who are experiencing similar situations in production.

Lately we have heard from several customers who recently started using oil presses in their operations and are having problems with higher than normal oil residuals in their finished cake product. In every case, the issues have been traced back to how the extruded product is handled when going from the extruder to the oil press.

In the above-mentioned scenario, the problem exists likely because of excessive moisture in the product entering the oil press. Excessive moisture will cause the meal to slip in the press reducing amount of oil recovered. Things to look for as an indication that the meal going into the press is too high in moisture is as follows. Foam in the oil, or excessive fines coming out between the cage bars will indicate high moisture.

In order to stop the excessive moisture, the conveyor from the extruder to the oil press needs to be vented to allow for the removal of steam or moisture form the extruded product before it enters the press. For the oil press to get maximum efficiency, the product going in needs to be very dry (5% moisture). That is why we stress the use of lower moisture soybean in the process. The extruder will free up the moisture to be removed between the extruder and the press.

Typically you can remove about 50% of the moisture in the post-extruded soy by going through a cooler. The problem is that cooling the product before going to the press allows the oil to start binding back on to the meal, which also reduces the efficiency of the oil press.

The solution is to remove as much steam as possible without letting the meal cool too much. The best way to accomplish this is to use a cooling conveyor – a screw conveyor, typically a U-trough, with the top vented to allow the steam to escape.

It is also important to have a conveyor that is long enough to give the product enough time for the steam to leave. The shorter the distance between the extruder and oil press, the harder it is to get enough steam removed. If you do have a conveyor that covers only a short distance, a small fan can sometimes be used to move air across the top of the conveyor and remove the steam.

It seems so simple, but somewhere between the purchase of the equipment and the installation of the system, this part of the process sometimes gets forgotten or neglected. Although it is explained in the start-up process, it may often be overlooked because it may seem like a minor detail. When an issue comes up, it is often necessary to take a step back and look at some of the simpler operations to understand where the problem might be stemming from. The cooling conveyor can be seen as a simple part of the operation, but can have a big impact on the overall process. As always, Insta-Pro is just a phone call away, and we are always here to help your operations run smoothly.