News 288 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Phosphate crisis demands more phytase

Microbial phytases have been used for almost 20 years in animal nutrition to release plant-bound phytate phosphorous. Phytases become more important as phosphates become scarcer.

Phytases in diets for monogastric animals can contribute significantly to overcome the current shortage in feed phosphates, according to The European Feed Additives and Premixtures Association (FEFANA). At present in most of feeds standard phytase dose rates are used to replace up to 4.4 kg MCP or 6.4 kg DCP. As shown in numerous trials, increasing phytase above these standard levels, which is already authorized under EU law, can allow higher amounts of inorganic phosphates to be substituted.

Overcome shortages
The overall use of microbial phytases in monogastric feed, combined with an increase in dose rates, are an attractive option to supply more digestible phosphorous to livestock and to overcome the shortage in mineral phosphates without imposing an additional risk to the environment and the food chain. The significant reduction in phosphorus and trace element excretion by the animals would also be relevant.

Increased demand
The current scarcity of feed phosphates seems to find its roots in several factors.One factor is the new demand for biofuel crops, which has led to a sharp increase in the acreage of cereal crops being planted, and consequently in the amount of fertiliser being used. Secondly, the increased standard of living in countries such asIndia and China comes with all kinds of side-effects. For instance, more people can afford to use commercial washing powders, and since phosphates are used in washing powder, this represents an additional requirement for a product that is already in short supply. Also the rock phosphate reserves in Morocco and Tunisia are running low; some scientists are warning that this could happen in less than a hundred years.

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