October 16, 2017.
Over the first 11 months of all 36 months, the subprojects 1 and 2 of the Research Project on “Innovative Physics Using Ion/ Plasma for Modified Forage Plants/ Bacteria to Enhance Dairy and Beef Cattle Productivity” under the Research Program in “Innovative Physics for Enhancing Value of Agriculture Products” have been in progress in accordance with the specified operation plans. All of these can be summarized below.
Subproject 1: Application of Plasma Immersion Ion Implantation for High Quality of Maize Silage
This research project aims to strengthen beef cattle farmers in Thailand with more income by reducing the expenditures of cattle forage through Plasma Immersion Ion Implantation or PIII to induce a new strain of bacteria with high potential to produce lactic acid and cellulolytic enzymes, such as cellulase or xylanase. These bacteria can be further used for fermenting agricultural wastes found in local areas at low prices, namely corn stalk, corn husk, rice straw, durian peel, cassava peel, banana peel, or low-grade pumpkin. As a result, these materials will have softening fibers to enhance the digestion of beef cattle, in addition to pleasing smell to appetize the cows. Lactic acid also enhances the quality of milk by increasing more proteins and fat. This method will help farmers to minimize the cost of cattle forage by 30 percent.
Figure 1 White Lamphun cattle.
In the first stage, the newly-formed formula of silage fermentation is applied for breeding three white Lamphun cattle (Figure 1). The formula of silage fermentation in this case is shown below.
1. Pumpkin: 70 kilograms 2. Molasses: 1 kilograms 3. Starter culture: 0.1 kilogram
4. Water: 100 liters 5. Lactic acid bacteria: 7.5 liters
All of these were fermented for 7 days in the 150-liter plastic tank using lactic acid bacteria (Enterococcus hirae) from the fermented soybean. In this formula, pumpkins were used as they were locally available at that time. These low-grade pumpkins were also at a very low price. Figure 2 shows the development of fermented forage through time.
Figure 2 Development of fermented forage. (Above row) No application of lactic acid bacteria (Item 1-4). (Bottom row) Application of lactic acid bacteria (Item 1-5).
When being used to breed the beef cattle, the fermented forage of Day 7 was mixed with rice bran and corn dust from seed milling, subject to an availability of materials and costs. White Lamphun cattle obtained two meals per day: natural forage such as grass in the morning, and fermented forage mixed with rice bran in the evening. These beef cattle would eat approximately 20-25 kilograms/cow/day. After 30 consecutive days of breeding, the measurement of milk quality was performed. The table below represents the data of June 2017.
The comparison of milk quality of white Lamphun cattle in those two cases found that white Lamphun cattle feeding on the fermented forage mixed with lactic acid bacteria provide the milk with higher fat and proteins. It is considered the milk with standard quality as the amount of fat is equivalent to 3.35 percent and the amount of proteins is higher than 3.0 percent. These are the minimum standard of quality raw milk as required by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. In addition, this experiment demonstrates that this fermented forage is not poisonous to cattle.
Next, the scale of experiment was expanded to PPO Farm in Seka District of Bueng Kan Province in July of 2017 (Figure 3).
Figure 3. PPO Farm is a large farm breeding approximately 1,000 Holstein and Brown Swiss dairy cattle with the weight averagely at 500-600 kilograms/cow. In general, one cow will eat approximately 40-50 kilograms/day. The number of dairy cattle in this farm is likely to increase every single year.
The normal forage used in this farm for breeding dairy cattle is the finely-chopped corn stalks spread out in the fermentation pond of 10X30 square meters in size and 6 meters in depth. In need of lactic acid bacteria, the powder of lactic acid bacteria will be mixed in water and sprayed over each layer of corn stalks in the pond which is covered with plastic for fermentation not less than 1 week. Before feeding the cattle, it will be mixed with other supplements. Each pond will be used for cattle breeding. Upon an availability of any pond, new corn stalks will be put into it. It is therefore obvious that the cost of cattle forage in this case is high due to incurring expenses of the rental land for growing corns approximately 1,000 rai (or 400 acre) of land plot, rental fee for corn harvesting machines, lactic acid bacteria powder (2,000 baht/ kilogram), and supplements e.g. soybean meal, cassava strip, and vitamins. However, the raw milk from this farm is in high quality and quantity. The raw milk makes sound income over a period of time.
Figure 4 Regular procedure for making cattle forages at the PPO farm.
According to the experiment conducted at PPO Farm, the cattle are divided into three groups below
After allowing beef cattle in each group to eat three types of forages for 30 consecutive days, they are subject to the measurement of milk quality. It reveals that the quality and quantity of milk is not significantly different. In Group 1, the beef cattle seem not to obtain any lactic acid bacteria. However, considering the fact that the supplements are purchased from the producers, it is found that the forages mainly contain vitamins and lactic acid bacteria. In fact, the beef cattle in Group 1 obtain the forages with lactic acid bacteria. However, this experiment points out that even though the beef cattle in Group 3 are given the fermented forages of agricultural wastes, they provide no difference in the quality and quantity of milk, compared with those normal forages given by the farm. Only one difference is that the expenditures for beef cattle forages are greatly reduced whereas the quality and quantity of milk is not affected.
In the next stage, this method will be applied for beef cattle of farmers in Dok Kham Tai District of Phayao Province and the efficiency of lactic acid bacteria will be improved by the PIII technique.
Subproject 2: Application of Plasma Immersion Ion Implantation for Phosphate Solubilizing Improvement in Bacteria
This project aims to develop a new strain of bacteria to enhance the soil phosphorus absorption of plant roots for plant growth with good productivity of both quality and quantity by using less chemical fertilizers to reduce the expenses of farmers and sustain the soil quality.
The main strategy of this research project is an application of PIII technique for phosphate-solubilizing bacteria (PSB) to induce a new strain of PSB with higher potential for converting the non-water soluble phosphate in soil into the phosphate particles which are water-soluble to ensure the absorbability of plant roots.
Over the past period of time, PSB is chosen from several sources. Three types of PSB with interesting properties from these sources: soil, intestine of earthworms, and fermented water from earthworms, are eventually identified. These three types of bacteria are capable of solubilizing the phosphate as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5 Three types of PSB: (a) Bacillus subtilis strain PS832, (b) Bacillus subtilis strain B11, and (c) Klebsiella pneumoniae strain 26, are more capable of phosphate solubilization of 246.6, 290, and 303.6 milligrams/liter, respectively.
In the next stage, the efficiency of phosphate solubilizing bacteria will be improved by the PIII technique.
Associate Professor Dr. Somboon Anuntalabhochai
Biotechnology Unit, Biology Department, School of Science, University of Phayao, Phayao – 56000