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Ecotain’s nitrogen-reducing capabilities

New research continues to reinforce Ecotain’s nitrogen-reducing capabilities

New independent research findings continue to highlight the nitrogen mitigating effects of Ecotain environmental plantain, with one study showing it halved the concentration of urinary nitrogen in cows.

In September 2017, proprietary seed company Agricom announced major research findings that showed Ecotain can significantly reduce nitrogen leaching from urine patches on livestock farms. Most nitrogen leaching from livestock farms comes from the urine patch, an area containing high concentrations of nitrogen from animals’ urine.

Agricom’s lead scientist Dr Glenn Judson says the new independent research findings, which have come from several post-graduate students’ PhD theses, continue to demonstrate the benefits of Ecotain.

“We’ve collected and analysed the findings from these various research projects and they’re reinforcing what has previously been proven about Ecotain’s nitrogen mitigating properties,” he says.

The initial research from Agricom, alongside Lincoln and Massey universities and Plant + Food Research, found Ecotain can function in pasture systems to reduce nitrogen leaching in four ways, known as Dilute, Reduce, Delay and Restrict. Consuming Ecotain increases the volume of cows’ urine which dilutes the concentration of nitrogen, it reduces the total amount of dietary nitrogen in animals’ urine, it delays the process of turning ammonium into nitrate in the urine patch, and it restricts the accumulation of nitrate in soils growing Ecotain.

Dr Judson says the new independent research findings support the nitrogen mitigating properties Agricom and its partners have found in each of the dilute, reduce, delay and restrict functions of Ecotain, and in some cases drills a little bit deeper.

A study by Lincoln University student Lisa Box reinforced the effectiveness of the reduce and dilute functions of Ecotain, finding that where cows were offered swards containing 50 per cent Ecotain (with ryegrass/clover), the concentration of urinary nitrogen was reduced by 33 per cent.

Dr Judson says researchers at Agricom are nearing the end of a 40-day trial in Canterbury where they have grazed lambs on different plantain cultivars, including Ecotain, and collected the urine to look at the nitrogen concentration and its effect on ammonium levels in the soil.

“From what we’re seeing in our preliminary results so far, the urine from the lambs grazing the Ecotain strip is the most dilute, and we should have a better understanding of how this relates to the effectiveness of the nitrification inhibitor by mid-June,” he says.

Research findings from Lincoln University researcher Anna Carlton on Ecotain’s restrict function shows the nitrogen mitigating impact of just a small amount of Ecotain in pasture.

“Anna’s research found that having a 20-30 percent amount of Ecotain in a sward facilitates a reduction in nitrogen leaching of about 70 per cent, relative to ryegrass/white clover swards, which means that even a small amount of Ecotain in a mixed sward produces extremely useful nitrogen-reducing results,” says Dr Judson.

Dr Judson says other research projects are ongoing with more results to come, with two projects on the horizon focusing on understanding Ecotain’s bioactive compounds and its farm-scale impact in pasture.

“Plant + Food Research is focusing on learning more about Ecotain’s bioactive compounds and the role they play in inhibiting nitrification in the soil, which will help us learn exactly what these compounds are and how they interact.

“Massey University will have also reached the end of the first year of its two-year trial measuring Ecotain’s nitrate reducing capabilities on its research farm in Palmerston North, so it’ll be really useful having data from a full year of farm scale research.”

Led by Professor Peter Kemp, Massey University’s two-year trial is measuring the nitrate reducing capabilities of Ecotain on 60 dairy cows grazing three different paddock types: ryegrass/clover, Ecotain/clover, and Ecotain. In December, Professor Kemp announced preliminary research findings found a minimum nitrogen reduction rate of 30 per cent from pastures containing Ecotain.

Ecotain and nitrogen management system NSentinel 4 will be at Fieldays, 13-16 June at Mystery Creek in Hamilton, at PD7 in the Pavilion.


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