ED&F Man Liquid products Italy promotes and maintains collaborations with public and private, Italian and foreign research institutes to offer increasing expertise to the customer.

Nutritional strategies for reducing environmental emissions from cattle breeding- Liquid_Green_Gas_Solution (LGGS)

The objective of the Plan is to test the effectiveness of a precision nutritional strategy for milk production, which through the use of specially formulated liquid feeds, will: a- reduce atmospheric emissions of methane (CH4) and urinary nitrogen excretion, the precursor of ammonia (NH3) and nitrous oxide (N2O); b- improve the sustainability of dairy cattle farms without changing the characteristics of milk for cheesemaking.

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Funding source: PSR 2014-2020 REGIONE EMILIA-ROMAGNA Measure 16.2.01 – Operational groups of the European Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability. Total amount of the project: € 193,049.72 -regional contribution allowed: € 135,134.80. Expected duration: 18 months (from 28/09/2022 to 26/03/2024). Focus area: 3A – Improving the competitiveness of primary producers by better integrating them into the agrifood chain through quality schemes, creation of added value for agricultural products, promotion of products in local markets, short supply chains, producer associations and organizations, and interprofessional organizations. Sector: Dairy. Lead partner: ED&F Man Liquid products Italy.

We need energy to reduce emissions

Sugars in Sugar Plus liquid feeds provide an ideal substrate for the growth of ruminal bacteria. Benefiting from this is the feeding efficiency of cows, which is also associated with decreased greenhouse gas production

Animal efficiency and the choice of feed that reaches the feeder are among the key factors to consider when aiming to hit the target of reducing the carbon footprint of livestock farms. Sugar Plus, the ED&F Man brand specializing in the production of liquid feed for ruminants, which has made environmental sustainability one of the core values on which to focus research and resources, knows this well. Starting from the choice of using co-products for liquid feed formulation, to the development of solutions containing diversified sugars, organic acids, minerals, soluble proteins and other additives that can optimize the animals’ forage utilization capacity, improve production performance and finally reduce the climate-changing emissions generated by each cow.

Energy from sugars

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The increased availability of microbial protein synthesized using liquid feeds makes it possible to reduce the intake of traditional protein sources, such as soy

Originally studied to improve the palatability of the unifeed ration and limit sorting by animals, liquid feeds are now being used because they can generate even wider benefits. “The sugars and organic acids present in this type of matrices,” explains Andrea Formigoni, professor of nutrition and feeding at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Bologna, “are able to stimulate ruminal bacterial fermentations and therefore increase the degradability of fiber. An interesting aspect, this last one, because it makes possible to improve the utilization of on-farm forages, benefiting economy and sustainability.” But the readily available energy provided by sugars also allows ruminal bacteria to optimize nitrogen capture for microbial protein synthesis. “The greater availability of protein of ruminal origin,” Formigoni adds, “allows us to reformulate diets by reducing the use of those traditional protein sources, such as soy, which have a rather high burden in terms of CO2 equivalents. Not only that, lowering the protein titers of rations is able to improve nitrogen efficiency and thus reduce the share of fecal and urinary nitrogen excretion. An event that favorably affects the attenuation of gases such as ammonia or nitrous oxide released from manure.”

Innovative formulations

And it is precisely with the aim of reducing the emissions generated by animals that Sugar Plus has recently collaborated with the research group of the University of Bologna, led by Professor Formigoni, to study specific liquid formulations with a research project inherent to the Innovation Plan “Food strategies for the reduction of environmental emissions from cattle breeding” carried out with the contribution of the 2014-2020 Psr of the Emilia-Romagna Region (measure 16.2.01, Focus Area 3A). “Thanks to a new instrumentation with which the laboratories of the Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences have been equipped,” our interlocutor continues, “we are able to simulate ruminal processes in vitro and so estimate the effectiveness of liquid feeds that have been formulated and added precisely to reduce methane emissions generated by animals. At the present time, the research has also moved into the in vivo phase at our teaching-experimental barn and, thanks to sensors installed in the milking robots, we will be able to measure the concentration of methane present in the cows’ exhale and thus test the effects of rationing strategies with suitable and useful liquid feeds to limit greenhouse gas production. The field trial is still in progress, but the results obtained in vitro allow us to estimate that the adoption of this new product mixture could allow a mitigation of methane emission for each animal by about 20 percent.”

Circular Economy

The other chapter is that of enhancing a true circular economy, because the liquid feeds branded Sugar Plus are obtained from by-products of the agri-food industry, in particular, sugar and starch. “We have known for some time now,” Formigoni concludes, “that the sugars contained within molasses and sugar syrups can conveniently replace a share of the energy derived from the use of cereals, thus reducing the use of food considered competitive with human nutrition in terms of land and resource use. A commitment, that of the ED&F Man Group, aimed on one hand at efficient utilization of dietary nutrients, and on the other hand at thoughtful choice of ration constituents.

It is the animals that benefit and the environment that is thankful.

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Sugar Plus branded liquid feeds when added in rations can optimize the utilization of farm forages

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The Gas Endeavour is the instrument used by the University of Bologna research team to measure in vitro the effectiveness of liquid feeds in reducing methane emissions