‘We want to lower production costs and prove algae are beneficial for livestock', says Dutch team

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

‘We want to lower production costs and prove algae are beneficial for livestock', says Dutch team
Microalgae offers promise to the feed and livestock sector in terms of sustainable production and its use in feed could ensure better quality eggs, milk and possibly meat, and improved growth performance in piglets, chickens and lambs, finds a literature review.

“Algae are also capable of producing more protein per hectare of ground than the current arable crops, and do not compete for land in terms of cultivation,”​ said one of the project leaders, algae expert Rommie van der Weide, who is based in the applied plant research department at Wageningen UR in the Netherlands.

Additionally, she said, microalgae are rich in protein, and this could make them an interesting alternative to imported soy for animal diets, but “not at this juncture due to current production costs.”

Van der Weide looked at a wide range of studies focused on the nutrient profile of microalgae and their potential for use as a feed ingredient in collaboration with her colleague at the Dutch University, Marinus van Krimpen, who assessed the findings in terms of animal nutrition benefits.

“We started this project six months ago, taking into account the needs of the feed sector through discussions with interested parties," ​she said.

The research was undertaken in cooperation with Dutch NGO, Natuur & Milieu, the Dutch feed industry association, Nevedi, and the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture and Economic Affairs in the context of stimulating agribusiness innovation.

"While not exhaustive, we have gathered together as much data as we could, given the time limitations, in order to document the different species, gauge their amino acid profile, their nutrient and fat and protein composition, and ultimately their feeding value,” ​continued van der Weide.

Cultivation methods

The Wageningen team also looked at various microalgae cultivation methods from open ponds to photobioreactors and the impact of those processes on the levels of lipids, antioxidants and other nutrients in the algae.

“Our literature review reveals the knowledge gap that exists in terms of the myriad of changes rendered to the algae by the various production processes,” ​she told FeedNavigator.

Arising out of the review, the researchers have compiled an algae opportunity map charting the advantages and disadvantages of algae as a feed supplement.

“The findings would indicate from cost perspective, algae production is still relatively high and this is a critical shortcoming. So we are looking now at the best ways to cultivate them.

Further research is underway or planned in terms of developing cheap and durable ways of growing algae using, for example, residues from industrial processing, with a risk analysis build in. We are also assessing cost effective harvesting, drying and extraction methods,”​ said Van der Weide.

She said the positive impact of algae, for instance on the health of young animals, also needs to be demonstrated even more clearly, with van Krimpen set to evaluate which algae strains are best suited to animal diets.

“We need to carry out practical trials to prove the nutritional value of algae for animals. We can run in-field or laboratory trials to determine, for example, which types of algae have a good effect on immunity or at what point in time do algae have the highest added value or what happens if we mix them into standard feed or if we replace some of the common proteins by algae.”  

Public-private partnerships

But the team is calling on farmers and animal feed producers to support such research.

Wageningen UR is already working with dairy farm, Kelstein, and algae grower, Algae Food and Fuel, on a trial in Hallum, producing algae in photobioreactors and open ponds, and using residue streams from a biogas plant.  

Wageningen UR’s center ACRRES in Lelystad also allows algae to be cultivate in multiple ways. “The smart thing is to use residual heat, carbon dioxide and, where possible, digestate from a biodigester to grow algae. We are investigating what is the best way is to do this,”​ adds the researcher.

This site also features a mobile refinery that can split algae into component parts, developed jointly by Algae Food and Fuel and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO).

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1 comment

Algae to Feeds

Posted by barry cohen,

The National Algae Association is the first non-profit algae education and production trade association in the world. We are made up of commercially-minded algae researchers, algae producers, commercial equipment manufacturers and potential investors.

Results for the last 5 years have been very promising for using algae as a cattle-feed supplement, poultry and fish feeds and commercial algae producers are scaling-up production in the US.

We have the Algae Biomass Exchange for "qualified" buyers and sellers of algae biomass.

The National Algae Association is the moderator of the Algae Biomass Exchange group on Linkedin.

Group Rules:

1. All algae biomass must include a Certificate of Analysis from a recognized third-party lab.

2. Each listing must include the strain and specifications as well as the quantity available/desired.

The National Algae Association will be held harmless from and against any and all claims, causes of action, demands, damages, liabilities, obligations, duties or suits of whatever kind or nature, whether heretofore or hereafter accruing, whether now known or not known to the parties, for or because of any matter or thing done, omitted or suffered to be done by National Algae Association in any way, directly or indirectly, or arising out of the Algae Biomass Exchange.

For information, feel free to contact us.

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