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Canola feed research looks to boost P uptake

Joint research in China and Alberta aims to put an enzyme in canola feed to improve livestock’s uptake of phosphate, lowering its levels in manure and keeping it out of waterways and groundwater.

The Alberta government on Thursday pledged $919,500 in cash and in-kind contributions toward work on modifying North American canola to contain phytase.

That’s on top of $134,000 (cash and in-kind) from Alberta industries and organizations, and $347,000 (also cash and in-kind) from the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission and Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences in China, the province said.

Too much phosphate in soil, through urban or rural sources, has been found to disrupt the food chain by causing algae bloom in water through erosion and leaching, leading to eutrophication in lakes and rivers as local fish species are choked out.

Studies with hogs in Canada and elsewhere have shown that phytase supplements in feed barley-based diets increase the digestibility of phosphorus, leaving less to be excreted in manure to make its way into the water table or wash into waterways.

In this case, however, “this project takes us right from research on a good idea to practical applications for commercializing it,” the provincial Advanced Education and Technology Minister Doug Horner said while announcing the project during a trade mission to Shanghai.

According to the province, the canola project will have three phases:

  • joint collaboration on modification of canola, using the Alberta Research Council’s expertise in plant genetics and the Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences’ technical capabilities;
  • application of technology developed during the project in both Alberta and Shanghai; and
  • animal feeding trials at ARC’s Vegreville facility.

“Our canola research projects address improving human and animal health and developing new industrial uses for oilseed crops,” said ARC CEO John McDougall in the province’s release. “This project could lead to greater market share for canola producers in Alberta and China.”

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