Background last update:6 Aug 2012

Advanced agricultural research facility set up in Czech Republic

Phytogenics specialist Delacon has opened the Performing Nature Research Centre, a world-class centre for advanced phytogenic research in the Czech Republic. The unique facility is a component of Delacon's global R&D program, conducting primary and applied research, and animal feed trials.

Delacon Biotechnik, located in Steyregg, Upper Austria, recently opened a research and development centre near Znojmo in the Czech Republic. This R&D centre in Stošíkovice analyses among other things a variety of feed additives, feed consumption and the emissions of farm animals such as pigs, laying hens and broilers.

“We decided to set up the test centre in order to find a way of improving livestock keeping and performance while reducing emissions at the same time,” explains Markus Dedl, managing director of Delacon Biotechnik. “The main goal now for Delacon Biotechnik is to find new plant-based active ingredients, their combination and type of application and to test whether they can be used successfully in animal production,” Dedl says.

“The Research Centre is a substantial new corporate commitment to meeting the current and future needs of the agricultural sector for efficient, safe and cost-effective, phytogenic-based agricultural products,” Dedl states. The Research Centre was specifically designed and built from the ground up to provide in-house testing and trial capacity for the company. It will be used to test innovative phytogenic substances developed in the company’s R&D programs and to conduct trials of new feed application methodologies with live animals in typical production environments.

The near-term focus of the Research Centre is digestion and growth improvement, disease prevention and the reduction of animal and production impacts on the environment. It is expected that the Research Centre will play a key role in identifying ways to improve overall animal performance and welfare, and in reducing undesirable environmental pollutants. “A part of the Research Centre’s annual capacity will be allocated to additive verification of our partner products, and customers’ special research projects,” Dedl says.

Global quality shortfall
The company conducts research and development of its products in trial stations and laboratories all over the world. It invests 10 to 15% of its turnover. As a result of the global shortfall in high quality, cost efficient trial services, and the performance of third party trial services that did not meet company R&D standards, Delacon decided to build its own research centre.

The Czech Republic was selected to host the new centre due to the availability of a capable management team, the proximity of world-class researchers, and its competitive costs. Local planners evaluated a number of potential sites, design plans and service suppliers. Companies that demonstrated the right mix of quality and flexibility were invited to become a partner in developing the centre. As such Schauer Agrotronic, Agrico, Möller, Letostav spol, SKS, STS Praha – Hostivice, and Kovobel v.d. have provided support during the development of the Research Centre.

The first phase of the facility includes a broiler pen section, a layers section, climatic chambers, a special filtered air trial facility, and a unique computer for controlled and automated feeding and facilities for piglet nursing, fattening and breeding.When it comes to feeding and feed distribution, Delacon counts on the precision of Spotmix multiphase feeding from Schauer Agrotronic. The Spotmix feeding system is used to enable feed testing with extremely precise measuring data. Two parallel Spotmix systems are used to provide different animal categories with different recipes. There are 36 different upstream feed components consisting of 24 feed mixes and 12 different additives. The units supply a total of 184 feeding points in the pig and poultry area as required with the desired feed mixes, which are mixed and distributed residue-free with high precision.

Phytogenics pioneer
Delacon has a long history of innovative research, products and applications. The company pioneered phytogenic feed additives and remains a global leader in phytogenic research, applications and commercial product development. “Our R&D program is the primary driver of our growth and technological leadership. Our flagship products Biostrong and Fresta have long been amongst the most successful phytogenic feed additives on the market,” Dedl says.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has investigated Fresta F for use as a feed additive for weaned piglets, and found the product to be both safe and effective. It was concluded that the product at the minimum proposed dose (250 mg/kg complete feed) has the potential to improve the growth rate of weaned piglets. Fresta is the first phytogenic product recognised by EFSA for its safety and efficacy as a zootechnical feed additive. It contains a preparation of partially micro-encapsulated essential oils from caraway and lemon, dried spices and dried herbs.

Biostrong has just completed its scientific trials and EFSA’s approval is anticipated.

The Austria based company is not satisfied to rest on its accomplishments and current strengths, but is focused on preparing for future challenges and opportunities. But there are challenges, to name a few: changing regulations, new technologies, evolving animal diseases, complex consumer expectations and the constant concern with the bottom line economics of farming in the 21st century. “The Research Centre is part of the infrastructure crucial to our long-term ability to conduct primary research into new phytogenic substances, and to the applied research that investigates the viability and potential of new products. The centre will allow us to deliver to our customers the innovative, cost-efficient, and effective phytogenic agricultural products that they demand, and that they will need to meet their future challenges,” Dedl adds.

Market leadership
According to Dedl, Delacon is the largest producer and distributor of phytogenic feed additives in the world, active in 32 countries worldwide. “Our key customers include the most important integrators from Europe, the USA, and Asia,” Dedl adds. “Our research resulted in the development of a new class of additives, which has attracted the interest of nutrition specialists and animal producers for over 15 years. Our products differ from other commercially available products. Aside from the positive impact on production performance and economics, they improve animal welfare and weaken the detrimental effect of intensive animal husbandry on the living environment through significant reduction of emissions of undesirable gases such as ammonia, methane and hydrogen sulphide.”


Dick Ziggers

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