SALISBURY, MARYLAND, US — Perdue AgriBusiness and biotechnology firm ZeaKal have entered a multiyear development agreement to raise more sustainable poultry through improved soy genetics and feed quality using ZeaKal’s PhotoSeed trait technology, the companies announced May 10.

PhotoSeed increases photosynthetic capacity, converting more carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy for the plant, according to ZeaKal, based in San Diego, California, US. In soybeans, this has consistently resulted in improved oil and protein content while improving the sustainability index of the crop, providing higher value soy for poultry feed.

Perdue AgriBusiness, Salisbury, Maryland, US, is an independent operating company of Perdue Farms Inc. Among the largest grain companies in the United States, Perdue AgriBusiness is a leading merchandiser, processor and exporter of agricultural products. 

“As we evaluated our supply chain, it became clear that moving upstream to access better seed genetics could improve value and sustainability in ways other solutions simply could not,” said Perry Aulie, senior vice president of value-added products for Perdue AgriBusiness. “As PhotoSeed soy develops, we expect it will be transformative for Perdue across soy processing and specialty oils, while improving the quality of feed. Together with our farmers, we are working toward delivering better carbon capture and overall nutritional composition using the power of the sun.”

Based on year-over-year results, this novel trait technology continues to uniquely demonstrate improved seed composition without compromising yield, according to ZeaKal. During the 2021 growing season, leading PhotoSeed soybean events increased oil composition by 12% while increasing protein by 1 point.

Perdue handles approximately 3 million acres’ worth of soybeans per year. Transforming this acreage to PhotoSeed soy is expected to provide a higher value crop for producers and ensure Perdue has access to beans with improved oil and higher protein in the resulting meal, all while reducing its environmental footprint.

“Feed and nutritional density play a key role in overall animal health and productivity, starting with adequate protein,” said Bruce Stewart Brown, senior vice president of technical services and innovation for Perdue Farms. “I am excited about how this project aligns with our commitment of using the highest quality feed ingredients to produce the highest quality, best-tasting chickens while doing good for our planet.”