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Use low-phytate barley or lose it, breeder warns

A feed barley variety that allows hogs to use dietary phosphorus rather than lose it to manure will now need enough hog producers to use it so as to encourage more seed production.

Barley breeder Brian Rossnagel of the University of Saskatchewan recently warned that the pedigreed seed industry will need hog producers to send demand signals for the new hulless barley variety or it may be lost for future use.

Speaking Tuesday on the hog industry-sponsored radio program Farmscape, Rossnagel said the newly-registered variety CDC Lophy-I won’t by itself prevent phosphorus (P) loading in soils, groundwater and waterways, “but it will help in making sure there’s as little phosphorus going out in the effluent as possible.”

CDC Lophy-I, developed at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre, contains low levels of phytate. In other feed grains, phytate locks up dietary P, calcium and iron, among other minerals, rendering them unavailable for the animal’s use and undigested in manure.

“It’s not a huge economic impact on that side because mineral supplements are reasonably inexpensive,” Rossnagel said on the program, “but anything one can do to help the producer keep his cost down is what we’re looking for.”

He described Lophy-I as “very good, high-energy dense feed for hogs.”

However, he was quoted in a separate release by the Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative (MLMMI) as saying that if interest and demand from hog producers is found lacking, “it is unlikely that seed growers will bother to increase seed, and this potentially valuable tool to assist in reducing P effluent will be lost.”

Furthermore, he said, as Lophy-I headed toward registration, issues regarding P loading in Manitoba became “front and centre.” Specifically, the province late last month passed new regulations restricting the use of synthetic fertilizers containing P, proposes to ban winter spreading of manure on Manitoba farms by 2013 and also plans new requirements for minimum and maximum manure storage capacity on hog farms.

CDC Lophy-I has been released with no seed-based royalty, the MLMMI noted. “In other words, the CDC will not receive any royalties from the sale of CDC Lophy-I pedigreed seed.”

That means once farmers obtain Lophy-I seed, they’re free to do whatever they wish with harvested crops, whether they use it as livestock feed or save it for subsequent seeding on their own cropland.

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