Soy beans have been cultivated in Austria for 140 years

date published 20.09.2018

Soy bean cultivation has a long tradition in Austria. In 1875, Professor Friedrich HABERLANDT first introduced soy beans in Austria. SAATBAU LINZ has been investing in GMO-free soy bean breeding since 2006.

In order to meet the diverse expectations of cultivators and food producers alike, we have developed new selection methods aiming at an even higher quality in addition to the standard agronomic objectives.

 

Soy beans deeply rooted in Austria

It was back in 1873, that the first soy beans travelled from Asia to the World Exposition in Vienna. In 1875, Professor Friedrich HABERLANDT started his first and successful attempts to cultivate soy beans which were then implemented as of 1877 in Upper Austria at the agricultural school Ritzlhof, the Schlossgärtnerei St. Wolfgang and on the fields of Grünau Castle, so that today we can speak of a 140-year tradition of soy bean cultivation. Friedrich HABERLANDT saw a great potential for this new crop for improving human nutrition. HABERLANDT died early, his death disrupting further tests and an expansion of soy bean cultivation in Austria and Europe. During World War I and the interwar period, there were several attempts at cultivating soy beans, but it was only in 1978 that soy bean cultivation found  widespread support once more in Austria.

Today, soy beans rank 4th in Austria after wheat, maize and barley; in Upper Austria, they rank 5th after triticale.

 

Since 2012, the association Donau Soja has been promoting and fostering the cultivation of GMO-free quality soy beans in Austria and the Danube region under the trade mark Donau Soja. It is thanks to this initiative and this impetus, that the cultivation of quality soy beans has gained much importance in the Danube region. Europe has taken vital steps towards an improved self-supply with proteins. ‘Soy bean cultivation in Austria and Europe is sustainable and GMO-free, no rainforest is sacrificed for this crop and we produce a raw material that saves us long transports and other harmful effects on the environment.’ (translated from: Soja – Eine Kulturpflanzen mit Geschichte und Zukunft, 2018).

 

Soy beans from Austria – a GMO-free and coveted crop

The great soy bean producers USA, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay grow their beans on the basis of genetically modified varieties while Austria and the EU produce GMO-free soy beans. By increasing domestic soy bean production, we can thus also better cater to a GMO-free soy market. And the demand for organic soy beans is on a steady increase. International food processing companies value our agricultural products as a qualified and GMO-free alternative to soy beans from overseas. The oil mill Straubing, the largest producer of protein feed in Bavaria, has been producing GMO-free soy meal and thus a central element in the value chain from the agricultural basic product all the way to the final processed product.

 

There is a great potential for further development

Austria is a pioneer with regard to soy bean cultivation in the EU. With only 2% of the total EU agricultural surface, Austria produces 8% of the total EU soy bean harvest and ranks 5th in the EU with an annual yield of 190,000 t. Even though soy beans can only be cultivated without synthetic chemical plant protection, the surface dedicated to the cultivation of soy beans has grown by 4 % and has attained 67,075 hectares in 2018.

 

According to DI Christian KRUMPHUBER, director of the crop farming department of the Upper Austrian Agricultural Chamber, we could cultivate soy beans on up to 100,000 hectares. Soy beans are also very valuable crops in crop rotation and constitute a welcome change from cereal and maize. Soy beans necessitate no plant protection except herbicides and also no fertiliser, while they are themselves nitrogen collectors. Especially in the East of Austria, the majority of the soy bean surfaces are organic fields and their harvests are very much sought after by the food processing industry.

 

Since 2006, SAATBAU LINZ has been consistently investing in GMO-free soy bean varieties. In order to meet the diverse expectations of cultivators and food producers alike, we have developed new selection methods aiming at an even higher quality in addition to the standard agronomic objectives.

 

 

 

 

Johanna FELLNHOFER

Communications, SAATBAU LINZ

johanna.fellnhofer@saatbau.com