An eco-friendly barley that farm animals can eat as well

June 17th, 2008 - 7:39 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 16 (IANS) A new strain of barley that could be a boon to the environment and for farm animals has been developed by agricultural scientists. Dubbed “clearwater”, the barley is rich in essential nutrients like phosphorus that pigs, fish and other single-stomached or “monogastric” animals can use.

Conventional barley contains more of the phytate type of phosphorus, the kind that monogastric animals find indigestible.

Indigestible phosphorus, leached from manure, can sometimes end up polluting groundwater or streams, said researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in the US.

Clearwater builds upon decades of research by plant geneticists Victor Raboy, Phil Bregitzer and others at ARS.

Raboy used conventional plant-breeding techniques to chemically tweak seeds’ phosphorus make-up. The work has paved the way for low-phytate barleys, such as Clearwater, as well as low-phytate rice, corn and soybeans.

Clearwater yields are about the same as those of other niche-market barleys, according to Bregitzer. One such market - aquaculture feeds - is already being explored.

Earlier this year, US Grains Council shipped 23 tonnes of Clearwater to Vietnam as feed for farm-raised fish.

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