The heavy rains which have swept across large portions of the British Isles
this summer are bringing a significantly increased risk of mould and toxin
contamination to grain farmers and feed manufacturers, according to agricultural
The last three months in the UK have been the wettest on record. England and
Wales have seen the wettest May - July period since records began with around
390mm more than twice the national average.
"After a wet summer like
this with poor harvest conditions, moulds such as Fusarium and Aspergillus can
be found on standing crops," says Murray Hyden, managing director of Agil. "If
not treated these moulds can seriously impact on yields, profits and animal
How to recognise
Fusarium is recognised in
the field by the premature bleaching of infected spikelets and the production of
orange spore-bearing structures called sporodochia at the base of the glumes.
During wet weather, this is likely to take the form of white / pinkish, fluffy
fungal growth on infected heads in the field.
The Aspergillus mould, along with Fusarium, is one of the
main producers of mycotoxins including Aflatoxin a naturally occurring
mycotoxin. The production of Alflatoxin also increases in wet summers and
is helped by moderately high temperatures too. Fungal growth in standing crops
result in a dull, grey appearance rather than the more typical bright golden
coloured fields at harvest.
"There are a number of options open to farmers
to inhibit and combat mould and toxins," explained Mr Hyden. "Mycostat and other
effective anti-mould inhibitors which are based on propionic, acetic and sorbic
acid combined with their ammonium salts can prevent new mould colonising and
existing moulds from growing and producing toxins in the stored
"Working alongside these mould inhibitors, many farmers also use
toxin binders such as Sorbatox which work very effectively in the aqueous
environment of the animal intestine. These binders, which have a high level of
aluminium silicate, provide a large number of sites within the mineral to
attract and hold secure the particularly dangerous varieties of
mycotoxins. These toxins are then excreted naturally without being
absorbed into the intestinal tract and impacting on feed conversion and
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