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Danish researchers eye clover grass-based protein to replace soybean meal

Researchers at Denmark-based Aarhus University are currently examining whether it will be possible to replace traditional protein sources with protein from clover grass in organic pig feed.

Every year, between 1.5 and 1.7 million tonnes of soybeans are imported, especially from South America, where large amounts of forest are felled to make way for the production of soybean meal. But now Danish animals can get their protein supplement from Danish grass instead.

“We want to demonstrate that it is possible to replace part of the imported soya used in standard compound feeds with grass protein. We succeeded in completely removing soya from our 15 percent compound feed. This feed only contains Danish raw materials,” said Lene Stødkilde-Jørgensen, researcher at the Department of Animal Science at Aarhus University (@AarhusUni).

The Danish import of soy has major consequences for the climate. The demand for soy puts pressure on natural areas and biodiversity in South America in particular and leads to a significant emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

In a report from 2014 , the environmental think tank Concito estimated that the emission of GHGs related to the Danish demand for soy proteins corresponds to over 80% of the emission from Danish passenger cars or almost half of the national emission from Danish agriculture.

Aarhus University has an organic science platform based in the Danish village town of Foulum. It is here where the researchers have been able to make a green powder made from grass protein.

The actual process of extracting the protein from the grass requires a significant amount of time, the researchers said in a statement. It takes place at a biorefinery plant in Foulum. According to Aarhus, an even bigger plant for grass protein production is under construction. Besides protein, the green crops also contain a fibre fraction that may be used as cattle feed or as raw material in biogas or ethanol production.


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