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    Soybean (Glycine max) offers an important source of plant-based protein. Currently much of Europe's soybean is imported, but there are strong economic and agronomic arguments for boosting local production. Soybean is grown in central and eastern Europe but is less favoured in the North due to climate. We conducted field trials across three seasons and two sites in the UK to test the viability of early-maturing soybean varieties and used the data from these trials to calibrate and validate the Rothamsted Landscape Model. Once validated, the model was used to predict the probability soybean would mature and the associated yield for 26 sites across the UK based on weather data under current, near-future (2041-60) and far-future (2081-2100) climate. Two representative concentration pathways, a midrange mitigation scenario (RCP4.5) and a high emission scenario (RCP8.5) were also explored. Our analysis revealed that under current climate early maturing varieties will mature in the south of the UK, but the probability of failure increases with latitude. Of the 26 sites considered, only at one did soybean mature for every realisation. Predicted expected yields ranged between 1.39 t ha-1 and 1.95 t ha-1 across sites. Under climate change these varieties are likely to mature as far north as southern Scotland. With greater levels of CO2, yield is predicted to increase by as much as 0.5 t ha-1 at some sites in the far future, but this is tempered by other effects of climate change meaning that for most sites no meaningful increase in yield is expected. We conclude that soybean is likely to be a viable crop in the UK and for similar climates at similar latitudes in Northern Europe in the future but that for yields to be economically attractive for local markets, varieties must be chosen to align with the growing season. Copyright © 2021 Rothamsted Research. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


    Kevin Coleman, Andrew P Whitmore, Kirsty L Hassall, Ian Shield, Mikhail A Semenov, Achim Dobermann, Yoann Bourhis, Aryena Eskandary, Alice E Milne. The potential for soybean to diversify the production of plant-based protein in the UK. The Science of the total environment. 2021 May 01;767:144903

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    PMID: 33550061

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