Does alkalization technology allow more with less in dairy feed?

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© istock/rakim
© istock/rakim

Related tags Cereal Wheat

Dairy farmers looking to get more protein from local grain can harvest more feed wheat and boost its protein content through alkalization, says an expert in the field.

Malcolm Graham, nutritionist and director at cereal alkalization business, FiveF Alka Ltd, said peas and lupins, which UK and Irish farmers look to grow to try to offset their winter bought-in feed protein bill, would ultimately provide less harvested protein than alkalized wheat.

“Typically, if a farmer grows a good wheat crop, the grain yield will be 4t/acre containing 440kg of protein. Through alkalization, they can boost wheat crop yield to 4.12 t/acre and gain 600kg of protein.

“Whereas, with lupins, they may be able to produce about 480kg of protein per acre but a crop yield of only 1.5t/acre, not uncommon, means they would actually end up with 2.5t per acre less feed,” ​he said.

The net benefit of alkalization is that it allows dairy farmers to feed more cereal in the ration without triggering acidosis, he said. “We make it alkaline, we make it acid neutral. You can get more wheat into the diet that way."

The company’s diet alkalizer works by rapidly releasing ammonia, which, it said, raises the pH, increases buffering capacity, reduces the initial acid loading of the diet, encouraging feed intake.  

Feeding an effective level of alkalized feeds can, typically, raise dry matter intake across the herd by about 1kg per day, said Graham. That can lead to better body condition and better fertility, but is also enough energy for more than two liters of milk, he claimed.

FiveF Alka Ltd technology can be used to alkalize farmed feeds, mixed rations, and manufactured feeds.

Graham told us the company likes to “fly under the radar.”​ It wants to manage the scale of the business to be able to continue to provide a high level of support and a consultation service to farmers and mills.

“When we work with farmers, we try and make as much as we can with what is grown on farm.”

Its Algagrain system can also be used with millet, oats, barley, triticale, rye, maize and sorghum.

Reduction of soy imports

The company ran an event earlier this month bringing together its European network of partners.

Camiel Hoogland, managing director of Hoogland BV, which trades 80,000 tons of agricultural commodities in the Netherlands, told delegates how cereal alkalization is helping Dutch dairy farmers to reduce reliance on imported soy and meet stringent new phosphate pollution restrictions. 

Halvor Nordli, feeds manager with Strand Unikorn, part of the Norgesfor Group of 14 feed mills, also reported that alkalization enables farmers there to reduce their reliance on imported raw materials, particularly maize, beet pulp and soy.

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