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4. Research Project on Innovative Physics Using Ion/Plasma for Modified Forage Plants/Bacteria to Enhanced Dairy and Beef Cattle Productivity


This research project consists of three subprojects below.
                   4.1 Application of Plasma Immersion Ion Implantation for High Quality of Maize Silage
                   4.2 Application of Plasma Immersion Ion Implantation for Phosphate Solubilizing Improvement in Bacteria
                   4.3 Functionalization of Graphene using Plasma Immersion Ion Implantation for H2O2 Sensing in Plant Cells


        The subproject 4.1 is for dairy and beef cattle productivity in a short term whereas the subprojects of 4.2 and 4.3 serve as the research and development for sustainability of forage crops in the future.
         The staple food of dairy and beef cattle is “roughages” with high fiber but low protein such as grass or hay added with “diets” regarded as a source of protein such as soybean meal or fish meal, particularly young and small cattle. Ready-to-eat diets are generally available in the market. The daily food expense is averagely at 80-100 Baht per one cow (for a cow weighing approximately 600 kilograms). In other words, a half of total costs incurred are the food expense for cattle.


        The subproject 4.1 is therefore targeted at cutting down the cost and increasing productivity for farmers regarding the cattle feeds through the self-developed technique called “Plasma Immersion Ion Implantation (Plll)” to induce a new strain of bacteria with higher potential for producing lactic acids and cellulolytic enzymes such as cellulase or xylanase. These bacteria are then be used to ferment the agricultural residues such as cornstalk, corn husk, hay, durian shell, cassava, banana peel, or low-graded pumpkin. Apart from softening the fiber of these raw materials to promote digestion in cattle, it enhances an aroma which boosts appetite for cattle. Lactic acid also helps add up the amount of protein and lipid in milk. When mixed with yeast to increase the protein equivalent to the diets, this process not only helps farmers reduce the food costs for cattle by more than 30 percent but also enhances the dairy milk and beef with standard quality for good prices. Meanwhile, a byproduct generates the income to farmers from selling the agricultural leftovers and relieves the environmental problem related to smog caused by agricultural waste burning. It additionally ensures farmers with sufficient food for cattle all year round as there is a shortage of roughages such as grass during the dry season if only traditional practice is performed.


        The subproject 4.2 is aimed to develop a new strain of bacteria to enable the plant roots to absorb the soil phosphorus for its growth with low demands for a chemical fertilizer.
        Phosphorus (P) is the main nutrient for plants as the plants are rather small if phosphorus is not adequately provided. The roots will be stagnant and likely to expand in the soil more slowly whereas the plants will not bear flowers and fruits. Phosphorus compounds already exist in the soil but most of them are hardly soluble in water. When the water-soluble phosphate fertilizer is applied to the soil, around 80-90% will react with soil minerals to turn into the compounds which are not soluble in water. The plants are rarely able to absorb these minerals. Phosphorus in soils beneficial for plants must be in the form of H2PO4- and HPO4- which is water-soluble in the soil. This research project will apply the Plll technique to implant ions of the plasma into the Phosphate-solubilizing bacteria (PSB) [1] to induce a new strain of PSB with higher potential to convert the soil phosphorus into the phosphate oxidants which is water-soluble to ensure the plant absorption. This will also reduce the amount of chemical fertilizer the farmers need for their plants and cut down the expenses for a chemical fertilizer while retaining the soil quality.


         The subproject 4.3 is aimed to develop H2O2 sensing in plant cells for plant disease surveillance. Its objective is to develop a strategy to fabricate a sensor for monitoring production of hydrogen peroxide in plant cells when attacked by pathogens. The level of hydrogen peroxide is raised temporarily to a spike when the cell is under strain, and possibly cause fatal oxidative damage. A range of hydrogen peroxide sensing method has been reported [2]. However, they suffer from high cost, complicated procedure, and long response time. Electrochemistry procedure is an alternative with low cost and high sensitivity [3]. In this work graphene; a chemically inert nanomaterial; will be treated with plasma immersion ion implantation of gaseous species including nitrogen, argon, and helium to induce functional groups and defects in the structure of graphene. These functional groups and defect sites can absorbed gaseous molecules on the graphene surface and leads to changes in the conductivity caused by different electron transferability. The sensitivity of detection will be enhanced by the existence of functional groups and defect sites. The subproject will promote the role of technology in food industry and agriculture of the nation.


Figure 4.1 Characteristics of pumpkin silage more than 5 days (the obtained fungus will no longer contribute to diseases in beef cattle).


Figure 4.2 Dairy cattle of Natarat Farm in Chiang Rai Province participates in this silage fermentation project.



Figure 4.3 (Left) Characteristics of beef fed by silage with the quality of grade 3 (out of 5 grades)
compared to (Right) Wagyu beef (34,000 Baht / kilogram) which serves as the benchmark of this research program.




[1] H. Rodriguez and R. Fraga, “Phosphate Solubilizing Bacteria and Their Role in Plant Growth Promotion”, Biotechnol. Adv. 17 (1999) 319-339.
[2] S. Hanaoka, J.-M. Lin and M.Yamada, “Chemiluminescent Flow Sensor for H2O2 Based on the Decomposition of H2O2 Catalyzed by Cobalt(II)-Ethanolamine Complex Immobilized on Resin”, Anal. Chim.Acta. 426 (2001) 57–64.
[3] J. Wang, “Electrochemical Biosensors : Towards Point-of-Care Cancer Diagnostics”, Biosensors and Bioelectronics 21 (2006) 1887-1892.


Principal Investigator : Assistant Professor Dr. Chanokporn Chaiwong 1)


Collaborators : Assoc. Prof. Dr. Somboon Anuntalabhochai2), Dr. Kanta Sangwijit3), Dr. Sugunya Suebsan4), Asst. Prof. Dr. Nirut Pussadee1)


Affiliated Institutes : 1) Department of Physics and Materials Science, Faculty of Science, Chiang Mai University, 2) Plant Biology Laboratory, School of Science, University of Phayao, 3) Biotechnology Laboratory, School of Science, University of Phayao, 4) Department of Biology, School of Science, University of Phayao