The demand for soya beans has outstripped supply since 2013, which could make it a viable alternative for farmers in the next production year. This is especially true for maize farmers, following this year’s massive over-production, the potential for carry-over stock into next year and the resultant drop in maize prices.

According to Paul Henning, business development manager at Laeveld Agrochem,  the local demand for soya beans has almost doubled from the 2012/2013 season to the 2015/2016 season – from 730 000 tons to 1,3 million tons. But despite the increase in demand, the production of soya beans has lagged, as can be seen in the accompanying graph.

Graph: Soya bean demand, production and area planted in South Africa for the past 10 years (Source: Grain SA. 2016)

According to Grain SA, the higher demand stems from South Africa’s  increase in oil press capacity, which has jumped from 860 000 tons in 2012 to 2,2 million tons. However, currently only about 1,3 million tons of the press capacity are being utilised.

The Crop Estimates Committee’s latest figures, released late last month, show an expected soya bean crop of 1,34 million tons for this year, which is almost double than that harvested in 2016.

Soya beans have a diverse range of uses, including crude oil, oil and as a source of protein. For human consumption, soya beans are used in oil and processed foodstuffs. At an industrial level, soya beans are used as ingredients in soap, paint, bio-diesel and plastic.

Soya bean cake is one of the most important protein ingredients in South Africa’s animal feed industry.

Table: The consumption of soya bean cake and oil. (Source: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Food Analysis Report 2015)

Demand Consumption (%) Consumption
Soya bean cake 32% Ingredient for various industrial products, e.g. soap, bio-diesel, plastic, paint.
Animal feed 60% Due to the growing demand for broiler chicks and eggs, as population figures increase.
Human consumption 8% Sauce, oil and processed foods that serve as a great source of protein.


Soya beans are one of the world’s most important seed legumes, contributing to 25% of all edible oils and about 66% of the world’s protein concentrate for livestock feeding. The United States is the world’s top soya beans producer, contributing to more than a third of global production.

Soil health for growing soya beans

According to Laeveld Agrochem, a holistic approach in growing soya beans must be applied, which takes into consideration the impact of the soil’s physical, chemical and biological factors. Effective soil management is crucial in ensuring successful growing conditions. The soil is the basis for the plant cultivar – the correct fertilization and biological factors involved in the growing of soya beans.

Using Rhizobium bacteria is helpful for producers, as it saves on the use of nitrogen fertilizer. Rhizobium fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere.

It is common knowledge that this Rhizobium bacteria inoculation process must be successful, to partly ensure the fertilization requirements of the soya bean.

Producers must be aware of the potential economic and financial losses that the fungus Sclerotinia sclerotium can cause. Laeveld Agrochem has the knowledge and has access to aids to control the sclerotia of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and Sclerotinia minor when used in soil treatment (see included photo for an example of Sclerotinia). – Press release

Additional information:

Soya bean cultivation

Detailed manuals on the production of soya beans, and information on pH, soil types, plant density and climate can be found at:

  • Pannar Seed (Pty) Ltd: Soybean Production Manual. See
  • Arkansas Soybean Production Handbook by Larry C. Purcell, Montserrat Salmeron and Lanny Ashlock.
  • Laeveld Agrochem: 012940 4398 or The group has technical specialists that can assist with the effective cultivation of soya beans.


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