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AGRICULTURE

PAGE 12 ■ THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2012

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Forage, corn feed alternative for cattle may come from biodiesel evaluate at the energy value of the glycerin,” MacDonald said. “Then the question became, what if you replace forage, which would be the case with stocker cattle?” MacDonald said glycerin has good flowability in low temperatures, as opposed to molasses or other similar products, and is non-corrosive to feeding equipment — both traits making it attractive to the cattle feeding industry. Additionally, glycerin is low in phosphorus, protein and sulfur, which can be concentrated in other dietary ingredients, he said. While the researchers knew the physical and nutritional properties made crude glycerin an attractive carrier in liquid supplement programs, relatively little was known about its

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Forage, corn feed alternative for cattle may come from biodiesel industry Crude glycerin, a byproduct of biodiesel production, could be an economical ingredient in cattle diets, according to studies by Texas AgriLife Research and West Texas A&M University personnel. Dr. Jim MacDonald, AgriLife Research beef cattle nutritionist in Amarillo, said during biodiesel production from sources such as cottonseed oil, glycerol is separated from fatty acids. The fatty acids become the biodiesel and the glycerol, combined with the impurities that remain, is a potential ingredient in livestock feed. “Crude glycerin is usually priced at a discount relative to corn, so we wanted to look at replacing corn to

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performance implications in growing or high-concentrate finishing diets for beef cattle. For the past two years, MacDonald has teamed up with Dr. Mike Brown at West Texas A&M University to conduct four experiments designed to determine the value of feeding crude glycerin in beef growing and finishing diets. The studies were funded by the Texas Department of Agriculture Food and Fibers Research Grant Program with the thought that cottonseed oil could be used for biodiesel production. Capturing the value of the byproduct is important to bioenergy plants, and “that’s where we came in,” MacDonald said. Another portion of the study was funded by the Department of Transportation – Research and Innovative Technology Administration through the South Central Sun Grant program. The studies were designed to determine the feeding value, optimal concentration and which dietary components were most optimally displaced by crude glycerin in growing diets, he said. Within the studies, the researchers looked at two strategies: replace corn or replace some forage. In the

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Researchers looked at four sets of cattle in different crude glycerin studies feed. studies replacing corn, the bulky ration as forage is researchers saw an optimal replaced. inclusion between 2.5 per“I feel very comfortable cent and 7.5 percent glyc- using crude glycerin up to erin, MacDonald said. At 10 7.5 percent of a diet,” percent inclusion, feed effi- MacDonald said. ciency was reduced. The researchers even When forage was replaced tested for a possible negain one study, they saw no tive impact on fiber digestchange in average daily ibility, but found none when gain, but the cattle con- the crude glycerin was fed sumed less feed and so feed at the low levels. efficiency was improved, “We also saw an increase Brown said. The feed effi- in microbial protein and a ciency was improved when reduction in rumen ammoeither 5 percent or 10 per- nia,” MacDonald said. cent glycerin was fed. This information could Another advantage is a less lead to further studies, he

Failed soybean disease leads to treatment for century-old cotton root rot disease A dreaded soybean disease that didn’t materialize in the U.S. has led to an unintended positive impact of approximately $29 million annually for Texas cotton growers, according to officials with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service The disease – soybean rust, which is caused by a fungus – in recent years was thought to be an impending scourge for the Midwest. As such, a chemical capable of controlling the disease was stockpiled for use in case of such an attack. In the meantime, cotton root rot disease, caused by a different fungus, had been stumping researchers since it was first reported in Texas in 1872. Little could be done to prevent losses in fields where this fungus appeared during the growing season, according to AgriLife Extension experts. As the soybean rust threat grew stale, a fresh look at cotton root rot surfaced. The result is a redirected use of the soybean-approved chemical, Topguard, for cotton by special permission of the Texas Department of Agriculture. The recent decision comes after years of trials by AgriLife Extension specialists. “I got a request from cotton growers and county Extension agents to do something about it,” said Dr. Tom Isakeit, AgriLife Extension plant pathologist in College Station. “There has been work on cotton root rot since the early 20th century, but there had been no new developments since the 1990s and no work on controls by plant pathologists.” With funding from the Texas State Support Committee, Isakeit teamed with an AgriLife Extension integrated

field, this problem with cotton root rot probably would have been solved 20 years ago. And I would have never thought to test it had not this material been labeled for use on soybean rust.” Tests of Topguard against cotton root rot began in 2008 and the team – working in the infested field of farmers Doug and John Wilde near San Angelo – saw control with high rates, Isakeit said. “It was really awesome,” Isakeit said of the results the first year. “You could look in the fields at the rows treated with Topguard, and they were all healthy. The adjacent rows that were not treated or treated with other fungicides had a lot of dead plants. So that was the start of it.” But it wasn’t the end. Isakeit and his collaborators knew that the high rate of application – several hundred dollars per acre — would be too expensive for farmers. “It wasn’t economical. We found that lower rates could be put through a drip irrigation system, but not everyone has that set up,” Isakeit said. So the team continued to try other methods of applications and doses through 2011. “The biggest advance was finding that we could put it out at planting, right in the seedbed as an in-furrow application,” Isakeit said. “We found activity (disease reduction) at relatively low rates of 2 pints per acre or less.” That interested the company, Cheminova, and made it feasible for cotton farmers, he added. Cheminova plans to continue with necessary studies to allow for Topguard to be labeled for cotton long-term, according to Steven Bradbury, director of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s pesticide programs office.

pest management specialist, Rick Minzenmayer of Ballinger.The two took a fresh look at the disease by a simple screening of the fungicides available on the market, because many new ones had been developed since the last studies were done on the cotton root rot. Though the cotton disease causes an estimated $29 million in losses a year, several factors had led to its not being on the front burner for research into its prevention or treatment, Isakeit said. Its presence is small in the scheme of world cotton production, so companies that have to invest millions to develop a chemical are not likely to put research dollars into a disease that’s localized to parts of Texas and Arizona. As a plant pathologist, Isakeit had worked more in the grain crops and knew that cotton root rot had puzzled researchers for more than a century. In fact, the disease was one of the top issues designated for scientific study when the Texas AgriLife Research agency was created in 1887, according to “Milestones,” a history of the agency formerly known as the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. “We started screening chemicals that not only would work against cotton root rot but that would have a good chance of being labeled (for legal use) by the companies that make them,” Isakeit said. Because of his prior work in soybeans, Isakeit was familiar with Topguard. He also knew that it had been approved for use in the U.S. for soybeans and had been sitting on shelves unused since the soybean scare subsided. “It was one of those serendipitous things,” Isakeit said. “Had the material been available and screened in the

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said. In high-forage diets, often excess nitrogen is formed in the rumen, which is excreted as urea and volatilized into the atmosphere as ammonia. The crude glycerin may allow more of the nitrogen to be captured before it is excreted and, thus, reduce ammonia emissions of cattle grazing high quality forage. “We also observed no negative impacts on animal health up to 10 percent inclusion in diets of newly received calves,” MacDonald said.

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