Edible protein per unit area of land

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Edible protein per unit area of land is a measure of agricultural productivity. This measure for various major foodstuffs is shown in the chart below. Values are expressed for one calendar year. Biological values and usable protein values have been added to the chart to show the true relative value of each foodstock for human consumption. Usable protein values are determined by the biological value (BV) of each foodstuff and represent the amount of protein that is fully digested by humans, it is calculated as follows:

Soybeans produce at least two times more usable protein per unit area than any other major vegetable or grain crop, except for hemp which can produce up to 33 g/m2 (290 lb/acre). They produce 5 to 10 times more protein per unit area than land set aside for grazing animals to make milk, and up to 15 times more protein per unit area than land set aside for meat production.[1]

Edible protein (g/) Edible protein (lb/acre) BV (%) Usable protein (g/) Usable protein (lb/acre) Limiting amino acid
Soybeans 40.0 356 74 29 263 methionine
Rice 29.0 260 86 25 224 lysine
Legumes (average) 22.0 192 49 11 94 tryptophan
Milk 9.2 82 91 8.4 75 methionine or cysteine
Wheat 15.0 138 54 8.1 75 lysine
Eggs 8.5 76 94 8.0 71
Maize 24.0 211 32 7.7 68 tryptophan
Meat (average) 5.0 45 80 4 36
Beef 2.2 20 78 1.72 15.6 phenylalanine or tyrosine

Selected averages as computed in the 1970s.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Soy Benefits". National Soybean Research Laboratory. Retrieved 2015-10-14.
  2. ^ Kaldy, M. S. (1972). "Protein yield of various crops as related to protein value". Economic Botany. 26 (2): 142–144. doi:10.1007/BF02860775.

Further reading[edit]

  • John Lobell (1981); The Little Green Book: A Guide to Self-Reliant Living in the 80's. Boston: Shambhala. ISBN 0-394-74924-3