Soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] seed composition and yield are a function of genetics (G), environment (E), and management (M) practices, but contribution of each factor to seed composition and yield are not well understood. The goal of this synthesis-analysis was to identify the main effects of G, E, and M factors on seed composition (protein and oil concentration) and yield. The entire dataset (13,574 data points) consisted of 21 studies conducted across the United States (US) between 2002 and 2017 with varying treatments and all reporting seed yield and composition. Environment (E), defined as site-year, was the dominant factor accounting for more than 70% of the variation for both seed composition and yield. Of the crop management factors: (i) delayed planting date decreased oil concentration by 0.007 to 0.06% per delayed week (R 2∼0.70) and a 0.01 to 0.04 Mg ha-1 decline in seed yield per week, mainly in northern latitudes (40-45 N); (ii) crop rotation (corn-soybean) resulted in an overall positive impact for both seed composition and yield (1.60 Mg ha-1 positive yield difference relative to continuous soybean); and (iii) other management practices such as no-till, seed treatment, foliar nutrient application, and fungicide showed mixed results. Fertilizer N application in lower quantities (10-50 kg N ha-1) increased both oil and protein concentration, but seed yield was improved with rates above 100 kg N ha-1. At southern latitudes (30-35 N), trends of reduction in oil and increases in protein concentrations with later maturity groups (MG, from 3 to 7) was found. Continuing coordinated research is critical to advance our understanding of G × E × M interactions.
Keywords: crop environment; oil concentration; protein yield; seed quality; soybean management.