ST. LOUIS — Recent advances in Benson Hill Inc.’s soybean breeding program, driven by the use of artificial intelligence (AI), are expected to double the agricultural technology company’s seed portfolio by 2025.
The latest field evaluations on Benson Hill’s third generation of Ultra High Protein Low Oligosaccharides (UHP-LO), non-GMO soybean varieties showed protein gains of 2% over the previous generation and achieved a yield gap of only three to five bushels per acre, compared with commodity GMO soybeans, the company said Jan. 4.
“We’ve successfully demonstrated that CropOS, our AI-based prediction and data insights platform, can drive our predictive breeding efforts and give us a step-change forward on multiple traits like protein and yield,” said Jason Bull, chief technology officer of Benson Hill. “We are now seeing massive gains in the field that minimize the tradeoff between yield and protein, surpassing expectations from when we began building on the high-protein soybean genetics we acquired in 2019.
“What this means for the industry is that we’re accelerating our speed to market with de-risked, outcome-based products in record time,” he added. “We expect to expand our portfolio of seed innovations again in 2025 to offer two dozen varieties that encompass protein, lower indigestible sugars, and quality oil.”
Last fall, Benson Hill said analysis of its non-GMO UHP-LO soybean varieties demonstrated novel attributes for poultry diets, swine rations and pet food, opening up the broadacre animal feed opportunity for the company in the next two to three years. Research confirmed attributes with UHP-LO that included higher yields, higher protein levels and lower anti-nutritional factors, the company said.
Deanie Elsner, chief executive officer of Benson Hill, said the company also has expanded its commercially available soybean portfolio for 2024, adding five value-added varieties to its lineup. The announcement was made during FARMCON 2024 from Jan. 3 to 4 in Kansas City, Mo.
Benson Hill previously offered about a dozen soybean seed varieties that deliver ultra-high protein, high-oleic and low-linoleic oils, and low-oligosaccharide quality traits. For the 2024 planting season, US soybean farmers can choose from more than 20 varieties across several relative maturity groups.
Benson Hill’s herbicide-tolerant Ultra High Protein soybean varieties are expected to be released commercially in 2025, with acreage and further portfolio expansion expected in 2026, providing farmers options for weed control and enabling lower-cost, broadacre production of Ultra High Protein soybeans for the feed industry.
By leveraging its proprietary soybean germplasm, Benson Hill said it is strategically positioned to drive seed innovation in broadacre opportunities for the aquaculture, pet food, swine and poultry markets. Elsner said the recent field evaluations support Benson Hill’s acceleration to an asset-light model focused on partnerships and licensing, including seed.
“Over the last several years, we’ve discovered ways to boost soy protein by 8 to 10 percentage points over commodity, and there are more seed improvements coming in geographies relevant for poultry production,” Elsner told FARMCON attendees. “Today, Benson Hill is well positioned to validate our products with customers and end users to create market demand and begin to scale our seed innovations across approximately 7 million acres by 2030.”
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