Vegetable oil consumption in Iran is about 1.4 million tons per year of which more than 90% is obtained from imports. Therefore, development of oilseed crops especially soybean cultivation is particularly important to reach food security. Since the technical and economic justification are the first requirements in introducing new crops, the aim of this study was to evaluate different inputs, energy use efficiency (EUE), and economic aspects of soybean production in Iran. Necessary data were collected from 30 soybean farms in two main climatic locations of the country via face to face questionnaire method based on statistical information of the year 2011. The results revealed that soybean production consumed a total of 29895.49 MJ ha-1, of which the share of diesel fuel and chemical fertilizer energy consumption were 67.47 and 9.5%, respectively. About 68.4% of the total energy inputs used in soybean production was direct (human labor, diesel) and the rest (31.6%) was indirect (seeds, fertilizers, manure, chemicals, machinery). Nonrenewable energy sources have 93% share of total input energy. So it was concluded that soybean production needs to improve the efficiency of energy consumption and to employ renewable energy as much as possible. Mean grain yield which was rain-fed farming was about 1850 kg ha-1. In this current study, total output energy and net energy was estimated as 54131 and 24235.5 MJ ha-1, respectively. Also, energy productivity value and EUE was determined as 0.062 kg MJ-1 and 1.81, respectively. According to economic analysis of soybean production, total expenditure, gross income, net income, and benefit-cost ratio (BCR) were calculated as 920 $ ha-1, 1239 $ ha-1, 319 $ ha-1, and 1.35, respectively. Regarding to high EUE and BCR of soybean production in Iran, technical guidance should be considered. Early sowing date, proper plant rotation (wheat-soybean) and application of combine vehicle were severely recommended to minimize fossil fuels consumption and more sustainable soybean production.
Key words: Energy use efficiency, soybean, benefit-cost ratio (BCR), energy sources.
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