Soya beans are rich in proteins but also contain anti-nutritive substances, which require processing prior to feeding to pigs or poultry. Designing an adequate processing system for a farm is challenging because a range of factors need to be considered together: profitability, time efforts, needs of livestock, and consumers.
Various technological design solutions exist for on-farm processing systems and are adaptable according to a farm’s needs.
The core of the processing facility is equipment which serves the purpose to convert raw soya beans into a di-gestible form via heat treatment.
The required processing can be achieved through different technological procedures (see overview in Table 1).
First step: Economic assessment
•Is the consumption of soya products on my farm sufficient to achieve a return on investment within a rea-sonable period?
A reference example for on-farm soya bean processing infrastructure in Austria and Germany are farms operating with an annual consumption of minimum 70-100 tons of soya beans. For organic farms, profitability can start around 50 tons per year already
• Conduct a cost-benefit calculation for the whole processing equipment system. Cost factors to be included: depreciation of the equipment, energy costs per unit of output, maintenance costs per unit of output unit and time efforts for maintenance, processing and supervision. When processing equipment is operating only in small batches and with many breaks, the machinery is operating on a below average efficiency. Full energy efficiency as listed by the manufacturer might not be achieved. It is like driving a car. Stop and go traffic is less efficient than a continuous drive.
Economic benefit factors: market value of the derived product. The market price for soya feed products can vary significantly over the year. The premium for soya products in non-GM quality ranges in Central Eu-rope from 60-110 EUR during the last years.
• If a depreciation calculation is not satisfying due to a too small number of operating hours per year, the subsequent follow-up actions can be considered:
- Implementing the processing facility as a joint project with neighbouring farms
- Offering processing as a service for others. This can be done either through stationary or mobile solutions.
- Reconsidering the decision for investing in soya bean processing equipment
• If soya bean processing equipment is used for others as a service, the general legal framework and possible additional requirements of certification schemes must be considered.