Up to 85 percent of the protein in alfalfa haylage breaks down into non-protein nitrogen during storage and fermentation. However, researchers at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center have discovered an environmentally friendly way to reduce this degradation. The patent-pending process uses ingredients extracted from red clover and potato skins. Red clover contains large amounts of polyphenol oxidase (PPO), while potato skins (a common ag waste product) contain high concentrations of caffeic acid.

The researchers are looking at ways to insert the PPO gene into a bacterial inoculant, and are working with potato processing plants to find out how to best extract large amounts of caffeic acid from the leftover skins. Eventually, producers will be able to apply the inoculant and the potato-derived caffeic acid to alfalfa crops to reduce protein breakdown.

For more information: www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/dec03/silage1203.htm