49 million square kilometers – that is nearly a third of the Earth’s terrestrial surface and used as pastures and fields for agriculture. Around one third of this arable land is currently being used for cultivating crops for human consumption and growing the livestock feed that is essential to feed cattle, pigs and poultry needed to feed us.
Animal nutrition has changed dramatically over the past few decades. While grazing was once the primary practice in farming, during the middle of the last century we started cultivating feed. . However, in order to cultivate crops such as corn and wheat as well as the protein-rich soy required for animal nutrition, a valuable resource is needed: land.
Unfortunately, land is limited. Even worse: erosion or desertification fuel the loss of valuable cropland. Ultimately, if we want to stop destroying rainforests to create arable land, we have to look to find other ways to feed the soon to be nine billion people world population. In addition, 75 percent of all plant-based foods currently originate from just 12 plant species according to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). This loss of biodiversity in agriculture may make our food crops susceptible to pest infestation and our planet to climate change.
So, how can we at Evonik make a contribution to preserving the limited resource of land? The answer is by making sure that animals better utilize the food they eat and thus need to eat less of it, meaning we need to produce less animal feed and use less valuable land resources. We are helping to achieve this with our essential amino acids we have developed, such as MetAMINO®, which is added to the animal feed after being finely tuned following detailed analysis of the nutrient composition needed. The results can be measured using so-called life cycle analyses. And these results are immense, and making a real impact worldwide.
"Thanks to the use of MetAMINO® worldwide 11.6 million hectares less of arable land is needed. This resembles an area the size of the African country of Malawi. Our dedication is clear: Every hectare counts! And we are motivated to continue working on finding further solutions for the pressing issue of feeding the growing world population, "said Dr. Reiner Beste, Chairman of the Management Board of Evonik Nutrition & Care.
Our scientists at Evonik demonstrate how these solutions may look with the AminoDAT® 5.0 database and the AminoNIR® service. Both offerings make it possible to formulate animal feeds by supplementing amino acids in a way that the animals can optimize all the nutrients. The basis is an accurate analysis of the raw materials in both cases.
No grain is like another, as they differ not only in their appearance, but also in their content of vital amino acids. This difference is not only dependent on the species of the plant, but also on soil type or climatic conditions. This means: maize is not maize.
Whether soy, sorghum or guar flour – knowing the amino acids content in crops used for feed is crucial. The Evonik service AminoDAT 5.0® helps farmers all over the world formulate their animal feed efficiently. The database was established as the reference work for determining the nutrient values of regional raw materials, and over the past five years, Evonik has collected more than 21,000 grain samples worldwide and analyzed them in laboratories fully certified by Evonik.
AminoNIR® predicts the amino acid composition of feed raw materials for Evonik customers on site. The benefits are far-reaching: Local feedstuffs can be used in modern diets, the dependence on feed imports from world markets is reduced, which in turn contributes to preserving biodiversity in agriculture.
"By combining our products and services, we are able to support the differing demands of modern feeding methods worldwide. The measurable effects of our solutions are enormous. This is something we should certainly talk about more often – not only on Mother Earth Day, "says Dr. Thomas Kaufmann, Head of Sustainable Development at Evonik Nutrition & Care.