IRAN- A group of Iranian scientists has made a groundbreaking advancement in animal feed production by developing a novel method for processing lignocellulosic waste into nitrogen-rich feed.

Dr. Kian Mehr, one of the chief researchers involved in this project, explained that Iran produces approximately 21.5 million tons of lignocellulosic residues from straw yearly. 

These residues have been viewed as inexpensive and abundant sources of fiber, but their application in the feed industry has been limited due to their historically low digestibility.

The breakthrough in converting lignocellulosic waste into high-quality animal feed could have significant implications for Iran, which relies heavily on importing feed ingredients, resulting in substantial foreign exchange currency expenditures. 

Dr. Mehr emphasized the practical importance of resolving this issue to secure a sustainable supply of animal feed domestically.

The Iranian livestock industry has grappled with concerns regarding a shortage of feedstuff in recent times. For instance, Gorgan Iftakharuddin, a member of the board of directors of the Golestan Union of poultry feed factories, recently expressed worries about the severe shortage of soybean meal, which threatens to cause mass closures of poultry operations in the region.

The Iranian scientists harnessed the power of nitrogen enrichment and oxidation to enhance the digestibility of lignocellulosic biomass, though they still need to provide detailed technical information on the process. 

Preliminary trials have shown that the biomass processed using this pioneering technology, when incorporated into cattle feed, can significantly reduce methane emissions by an impressive 67%.

One of the key advantages of this method is its efficiency. The processing is rapid, operates at ambient temperature and pressure, and can be applied to various biomass in a solid state, eliminating the need for chemical recovery beforehand. 

Additionally, it generates minimal waste and produces no toxic by-products, making it an environmentally friendly solution.

Potential for industrial application

The high lignin content in lignocellulosic waste makes it suitable for producing feed pellets, serving as a natural binder. This characteristic could lead to cost savings for feed manufacturers, as it reduces energy consumption and minimizes the need for additional binders in the production process.

However, it’s important to note that while the technology holds great promise, it is still in the early stages of development. The lignocellulosic waste processing has thus far only occurred in laboratory conditions. 

The researchers acknowledge that further refinements and scaling are required before the method can be considered for mass production and commercialization.

Iran’s groundbreaking innovation in animal feed production from lignocellulosic waste has the potential to revolutionize the country’s feed industry and reduce its dependence on costly imports. 

While challenges remain on the path to commercialization, this achievement underscores the importance of sustainable solutions in addressing feedstuff shortages and mitigating environmental impacts.