'Superfeed' lupin will provide soya-grade protein from UK farms
Scientists at Aberystwyth University's Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) have proved that growing lupins provides a viable alternative source of soya-grade protein for animal and fish feeds in the UK.
This is the conclusion of the three year LUKAA research project (Lupins in UK Agriculture and Aquaculture) funded by 10 industry partners and co-funded by Innovate UK and the BBSRC. Following newly published results from the project, farmers will be advised that home-grown lupins have the potential to provide soya-grade protein.
The potential for home-grown lupins to replace imported soya in livestock, poultry and aquaculture concentrate feeds has been made clear through the three year project which has revealed that livestock, poultry and fish given rations containing lupins perform equally well and in some cases better than those fed rations of comparable quality containing soya.
Professor Nigel Scollan, Waitrose Chair of Sustainable Agriculture at IBERS and the Principal Investigator on this research project said: "The UK and Europe have major issues with protein security within the livestock and fish sectors and are heavily dependent on imported soya. Our research findings here have proven that we can increase the amount of protein that can be grown here in the UK, with proven practical and economic benefits to producers."
The aim of the project was to look at sweet (edible) lupins which are high in protein, as a viable UK-grown alternative protein source to go into animal and fish feeds to replace as far as possible, and ideally up to 100%, the soya protein component.
Professor Nigel Scollan added: "The three main varieties - white, yellow and narrow-leafed - offered crude protein levels of 28-42% and a more favourable amino acid profile than either beans or peas.
"There is clear evidence that lupins could help as a replacement for soya with no compromise to performance."
This has far-reaching implications for the food and farming industry, where imported soya has long been a key source of protein in animal feeds.
However, there have been barriers to the uptake of crops such as lupins, including the lack of an infrastructure between farms and the feed-milling industry, the limited range of approved herbicides and possibly even a lack of confidence amongst farmers that lupins can match the animal performance of soya.
But many of these concerns have been laid to rest by these findings whose publication coincides with some broader political and economic factors which could help drive the lupin-growing industry forward.
These include the increasing unacceptability and cost of importing soya, the declining availability of non-genetically modified (GM) soya and a widespread desire to improve UK food security in the face of volatile international markets.
A further significant impetus to the uptake of lupins is expected to come from the Common Agricultural Policy whose new 'greening' rules will be compulsory for those in receipt of the 'Basic Payment' which comes into effect this year.
Although the impact of these rules will vary from farm to farm, there will be a general trend towards more crop diversification which will encourage the growth of crops such as lupins, particularly by arable farmers.
For more information visit /www.aber.ac.uk/lukaa-project.
Tags: crops farming food The Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) plants press release