FEED compounder ABN has joined a Defra-funded project to increase pulse and legume cropping in arable rotations and utilise them more in monogastric diets.

‘Nitrogen Efficient Plants for Climate Smart Arable Cropping Systems’ (NCS) is a four-year £5.9m research project involving 200 UK farms and 17 partners.

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The twin aims of the NCS project are to increase pulse cropping in arable rotations to 20% across the UK, from the current 5%, while developing and testing new feed rations.

This, in turn, will help with the second aim, to help livestock producers reduce reliance on imported soya meal used in feed by 50%, replacing it with home-grown pulses and legumes.

Soya is one of the most significant contributors to overall emissions in poultry diets. ABN’s senior nutrition manager Brian Kenyon said the firm was undertaking ‘significant research’ into alternatives. The aim is to increase the use of UK-produced pulses in both pig and poultry rations based on ongoing research and including the NCS project.

Primary processing

When it comes to increasing pulses in monogastric diets, there is a need to introduce a primary processing step to help reduce some of the natural anti-nutritional factors present within pulses, and much of ABN’s research is focused on developing and enhancing potential processes.

“Looking at our current standard poultry diets, pulses currently only make up 2.5% of the diet based on our processed product.

“The aim is to increase this to 10%, which will have the dual benefit of not only increasing the home-grown content but also contributing to reducing the soya reliance by half,” said Mr Kenyon.

Supply chain alignment

Pulses also bring value to other crops grown in the UK, particularly in East Anglia, a key region for pig and poultry production, according to ABN, which said it would also be important to quantify the total value in the subsequent cereal crops that follow.

“Ultimately, it requires the end-user to buy into and support a UK-produced protein for it to be viable. If we want to be self-sufficient, we need alignment across the full supply chain,” added Mr Kenyon.

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