VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) and the Natural Resources Institute Finland are working on a project called Innofeed, which they hope will improve profitability and domestic protein self-sufficiency in Finland.
The two firms are looking at technologies to help them produce feed products made from silage that can be given to monogastric farm animals, like pigs and chickens.
Protein juice for cows
Silage is made from conserved grass and mainly contains fibre, but also plenty of protein. VTT and the National Resources Institute Finland hope the grass can be used to make protein-rich and sugar-rich feed juice and single-cell protein feeds.
The cellulose of the silage will be broken down into sugars that will be used to produce feed protein.
The three-year Innofeed project started in September 2015 and will look at developing a range of frameworks for farms and centralised biorefineries that produce feed products.
Plans to export technology
It is not yet known how much, if at all, farmers will be able to minimise costs, but researchers say profitability will be evaluated to “develop production methods that will not require costly investments on farms”.
The commercialisation of the technology and the possibility of exporting it to the international market will also be investigated by VTT.
Grass grows well in Finland, according to the VTT. The non-profit organisation also suggests production of grass and silage can be significantly increased by making cultivation more efficient and thus generating more feed for cattle farmers.
Innofeed is funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes), VTT, the Natural Resources Institute Finland and a group of eight companies that represent the whole value chain of a grass biorefinery in the country.