ProRefine is coordinated by NIBIO. Three project meetings are planned.
Dissemination and industry engagement
We apply a multidisciplinary and participatory approach to involve different stakeholders actively in the project. This will support the technical and conceptual development, and assessment of local food systems based on forage legume fractionation. The approach ensures high transnational value and efficient implementation of successful solutions at regional level. New knowledge can be applied at a regional level according to differences in climate, agricultural structure, and social aspects by utilising coordinated regional activities with a common design in the participating countries. In ProRefine, we disseminate promising results to farmers, advisory services, industry, government officials and other stakeholders.
The activities include organising regional stakeholder group meetings, field days. Dissemination includes written publications, newsletters and use of social media. SLU leads the work package.
Prediction of protein supply from forage legumes
Mathematical models will be developed to predict leafiness, crude protein content or fibre fractions of forages under different climatic conditions.
We hypothesise that lucerne and red clover protein yields and leafiness depend on such factors as the stand composition, biomass yield, cut number and growth stage. Models for predicting forage legume protein yield can be used to aid harvest decisions where leaf stripping or bio-refining techniques are used.
Activities include selection of data sets from the literature, collection of data from experimental fields and development of mathematical models.
Upgrading forage legume crops
Two different techniques for separating protein-rich from fibre-rich fractions will be applied to legume forages grown in different regions. Leaf stripping separates leaves from stems and screw pressing separates juice from pulp. The protein-rich fractions are intended to be utilised as feed for monogastric animals and the fibre-rich fractions as feed for ruminants. Alternative preservation techniques for the different fractions will be tested. The leaf stripper will also be tested in mixed stands of forages legumes and grasses.
We hypothesise that forage legumes have higher crude protein yields in the leaf and juice fractions than pulses. We assume that leaf stripping “extracts” a larger proportion of the protein than juice pressing. Leaf strippers can separate legume leaves inmixed stands, but new harvester tools must be developed to fractionate grass leaves from legume leaves.
Field trials will be established in five regions. The crops will be harvested three to five times in 2019 with experimental scale leaf strippers (TRUST’ING) and twin gear juicers, and samples will be subjected to chemical analysis. Preservations experiments will be carried out to find appropriate methods to store the different fractions produced.
Feed evaluation and animal feeding
The nutritional value of the protein- and fibre-rich fractions will be evaluated in feeding experiments with monogastric animals and ruminants, respectively. In addition, samples from the field trials will be analysed for digestibility using laboratory methods.
We expect that the nutritional value of juice for monogastric animals is higher than that of leaves and comparable to that of soybean meal. We assume that the nutritional value of pulp after juice production does not differ from the whole crop, but stems have lower nutritional value. Comparing lucerne and red clover, small difference are expected in the nutritional value of the juice, but the fibre fractions of red clover may have a higher value than those of lucerne.
The activities in this work package include feeding experiments with growing pigs and dairy cows. Samples from work package 4 will be analysed for in vitro digestibility and nutritive value by chemical and NIRS analysis. Based on the results nutritional strategies and recommendations will be developed.
Sustainability assessment of local food systems and farmer attitudes towards self-sufficiency
The aim of the work package is to assess the sustainability of local food systems based on fractionating forage legumes, with regard to economic, environmental and social aspects. The work will have focus on regional differences.
We hypothesise that lucerne is economically more feasible than red clover, but in the Nordic countries red clover performs better than lucerne. Systems with leaf stripping may be more sustainable than systems with juice production. For farmers, economics, risk aversion to changes and attitudes towards self-sufficiency with feed are important determinants for farmers to change their way of farming.
Fractionation of forage legumes can contribute to more sustainable animal husbandry in organic farming. Adaptation to regional conditions is important in local food systems.
The activities in this work package include conceptualisation of local food systems, scenario analyses, farmer interviews, stakeholder group interviews and sustainability assessment