Process Management

News last update:6 Aug 2012

Wet conditions increase mycotoxin risk

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 specialists Agil.

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 health."

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 grains."

"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 fertility"

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