The researchers from College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences are working on integrating mushroom and cattle production. The team recently received athree-year, $500k grant from the United States Department of Agriculture through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) as part of its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program.The researchers from College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences are working on integrating mushroom and cattle production. The team recently received athree-year, $500k grant from the United States Department of Agriculture through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) as part of its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program.The team is using its AFRI grant to explore how the use of a mushroom-based feed supplement might improve how U.S. farmers feed their cattle.The U.S. production system begins with cow/calf operations that typically occur on pastures and rangelands, all the way to cattle feedlots that focus on finishing cattle on grain. During the early stages of cow/calf operations, production costs increase remarkably during the winter months when pastures are less productive. As a result, cattle farmers use supplemental feeding of previously-harvested and stored forages (hay and straw for example) and other agro-industrial by-products.For small-to-medium sized cattle farmers, the winter season poses major challenges to sustainability and profitability. The cost of feed during the winter season is especially high, hence farmers must choose between using their land for crops or livestock production. These farmers also lack the ability to create short-term, regular income flow throughout the year.Corn stover is the dried, decayed leaf and stem matter left on the field (and spit out of a harvester) after cobs are picked and shelled. While stover is America’s most plentiful cropresidue after harvest, it’s not very appealing as a livestock feed. Even after it is processed into bite-sized pellets (not an inexpensive process) it won’t be nutritious. It contains a lot of tough plant fiber (called lignin).The corn plant has done its work growing nutritious corn kernels; the stover represents spent scraps.What if there was an affordable way to fortify corn stover and make it easier for cattle to eat? And, beyond that, what if there were additional economic benefits to farmers using that fortification process?
Mushrooms are organisms that grow from spores, not seeds, which means they grow in a very different way from plants. Mushrooms grow into extremely nutritious, vitamin-filled edibles by feasting on substances such as sawdust, grain, wood plugs, straw, wood chips, plus liquid for nourishment.Are you wondering if mushrooms will grow on corn stover? Dr. Isikhuemhen’s previous work in Germany and recent work with Dr.Anike already established the possibility. Now it’s time to test the concept at small farmer sites and see how the science and economics add up.There is a possibility that the production of mushrooms and the simultaneous utilization of abundant, low-cost corn stover could really improve the financial landscape for farmers. The team believes that cultivating mushrooms on corn stover will: Alleviate financial challenges for farmers by utilizing cheap and plentiful corn stover especially for winter feeding of cows Break down the lignin in the corn stover making it appealing and easy to digest Release nutrients and bioactive compounds into the stover which makes it more nutritious Improve the gut microbiome in cattle Produce mushrooms, a tasty, nutritious, high-margin, year-round crop for farmers to sellThis research project will be executed by a team comprised of an animal scientist, a mushroom scientist, a biotechnologist, an economist and a group of small farmers of cattle and mushrooms in North Carolina. Source: tntribune