More Profit, Less Gas
For immediate use
July 10th 2012
More Profit, Less Gas
by Sue Edmonds
The recent Government announcement of a deferment for agriculture entering the ETS will not only ease farming pocketbooks, but will also provide more time for research into ways to reduce just how much methane and nitrous oxide our ruminant export earners produce individually.
And while some publicly funded research has been looking at methods to change how the rumen works in the animal, some private research has focused on the pasture that goes in, and not just the gases coming out.
Indigo Ltd, who has produced Agrizest for orchardists since 2005, has turned its focus to pasture, and recently launched Biozest, a patented New Zealand spray for pasture which is already certified as an organic agricultural compound.
So how does Biozest work?
Indigo has taken the learning from a variety of published and peer reviewed scientific papers on what plants can do when stimulated, and what effects this has on what goes on in the animal rumen. Repeated trials on different farm types around the country have confirmed some remarkable results, not only in pasture growth rates, but also by increasing milk and meat production, due to the protein in the pasture eaten being used by the animal, and not just quickly excreted, as generally happens now. Profitability per hectare increased markedly on the trial areas.
Plants contain receptors which react to a variety of stressors (such as cold, salinity and light) and also defend against pathogens and pests. What Biozest does is trigger these receptors, resulting in production of essential oils by the plant. Essential oils not only trigger more pasture plant growth (between 89% and 127% more after 19 days), but also assist the plant to more efficiently make use of the elements in the soil around it.
The plant grows faster, produces higher levels of sugars, with some of the essential oils being flavour compounds, making the pasture more palatable to ruminants. Trials showed animal preference for treated pasture, and higher Brix levels in it. These higher levels of essential oils have resulted in combined benefits of increased milk production (up to 33% for goats), higher levels of protein in milk, enhanced animal weight gain (up to 22% for bulls over 68 days), and a marked reduction of an average 26% in urea production in cow urine.
The effect of this is not only to increase benefits to the animal, but to reduce the amount of urea and methane produced in the extended digestive process. Urea patches from cow urine have already been proven to cause the most leaching through soils. If the plants can be persuaded to grow more and faster with Biozest rather than farmer-spread urea, and if the animal gut doesn’t produce so much urea in the urine, then leaching of nitrogen will likewise reduce significantly.
An additional benefit from the essential oils is that earlier research has found direct benefits in animal health and immunity from supplementation with essential oils. However, in the case of ruminants, the benefits accrue only from essential oils contained in pasture, and there is no benefit from direct supplementation.
Recommended application of Biozest is for two sprays (1 litre in up to 500 litres of water per hectare), a week apart for the first doses, and then applied to pasture 3-5 days after grazing thereafter to retain the full benefits. There is nil withholding or waiting period after spraying, and the product comes in 5 litre containers.
The trial farms showed a consistent ability to increase farm profitability by $1000/ha after using Biozest. With proven reduced emissions there could also be opportunities for carbon credits (eg under the Kyoto Protocol Implementation of Clean Development Mechanism).