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Ben Williams

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Development and evaluation of low-phytate wheat germplasm to reduce diffuse phosphate pollution from pig and poultry units

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Research partners: NIAB, University of Reading, Nottingham and Idaho, Harper Adams University College, Velcourt Ltd.

Industrial partners: Nickerson-Advanta, BASF Frank Wright, Noble Foods, JSR Farms, Sun Valley Foods, A.B.N.A Ltd. J Bibby Agriculture and Trident Feeds, Anglian Water Services, The Environment Agency, Velcourt (Farm Management), British Poultry Council, Home Grown Cereals Agency, AHDB Pork

Sponsors: This project was funded under the Defra LINK Sustainable Arable programme.

Project duration: 2006 – 2010

Aims and objectives

  • To provide adapted germplasm and tools for marker assisted breeding of High Available Phosphate (HAP) wheat
  • To determine the effect of P fertiliser treatment on the P metabolism within the wheat plant and grain, and on the grain composition of other important nutrients and micronutrients

 Findings to date

  • Under certain conditions P excretion could be reduced in both pigs and poultry using HAP wheat; in one trial this equated to approximately a 20 – 25% reduction in pig faecal P
  • Replacing conventional feed with a low phytate alternative could make it possible to reduce P load to waters by 0.53% (321 tonnes P per year) and the agricultural contribution to the total P load to British waters by 2.73%
  • There was no evidence for altered performance or need for altered agronomy with HAP wheat; this will need to be confirmed with the UK adapted material and the new mutations.