A farmer is reaping the benefits after “taking a gamble” to harvest a crop usually found in warmer climates.
Earlier this year, Jason Edwards, whose farm is in High Street, Upwood, decided to take on a new challenge by growing soya beans.
“The soya market is a very niche market but it was something I wanted to do,” said Mr Edwards, who has been farming for more than 35 years.
“I decided to give over 25 acres of my farm to the crop, which was a bit of a bold move, that would have usually been used for a second crop of wheat, but the wheat crop didn’t yield well this year so I am pleased that I took that gamble.”
Mr Edwards, 54, who boasts a 250-acre farm, decided to “give it a go” with the new crop following a talk from managing director of Soya UK, David McNaughton, at Ramsey Agricultural Club.
“Since the value of peas and beans has come down, I was looking for another crop. Soya is something that we are being able to grow now because there are different varieties that can grow in our climate.”
Usually grown on continents with higher temperatures, such as South America, Mr Edwards said this year’s weather had been favourable.
“The seasons definitely helped the soya beans, the rain fall in the spring was reasonable but with some dry spells – the crop needs the warmth but it also needs the moisture to grow.
“Now I have grown it once I can see what the pitfalls can be and things we need to do to insure we can grow a crop – I would definitely grow it again.”
Following harvest, earlier this month, some of Mr Edwards’s crop will be going to Dalton Seeds, in Peterborough, to allow other farmers to invest in the soya market. This year there were around 160 acres of soya bean crops grown in the country, specifically favoured by farmers in Cambridgeshire and Kent.
“The world’s production of soya has gradually increased over the years as actual demand for it due to the fact that it is high in protein,” added Mr Edwards.
The UK imports about one million tonnes of soya beans each year.
The soya bean product grown in the UK is also popular in horse feed, as it is not genetically modified, but typically the bean is used to make super-market products including tofu and soya milk.