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U of M researchers studying crop protein quality

Researchers at the University of Manitoba are looking at factors that influence the quality of the protein in Manitoba crops.

Dr. Jim House is a professor in the Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences.

"We've got a project right now with the Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers, to really understand the factors that are influencing the quality of the protein within Manitoba. Soybeans that are grown in northern climates tend to present with a little bit of a protein deficit, and that can have direct economic implications for farmers because if the protein levels are too low, they could actually get a bit of hit when it comes to pricing. What we're doing is really turning the attention away from crude protein or the absolute protein to really understand the true requirements that make up a high quality protein source is really the amino acids. These are the building blocks of protein."

House says that even though the protein level might be a little lower than what you see in southern producing states or countries, the protein that we have here is actually rich in some of the limiting amino acids that we need to support growth of poultry, pigs, and cattle. 

"That's what we're really trying to show is that we should try to move away from looking just at crude protein and really understanding those amino acids and the quality that's there. We have two major studies on the go right now to look at that and try to help producers understand that it's not just about protein, we need to understand the quality of that protein."

One of the studies is looking at how to measure the quality of protein rapidly using NIR (Near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy). The other major project is looking at the feeding value of the soybeans in the province.

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