References Agriculture, Food

The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) together with Eastman aim to solve food production challenge caused by the growth of human population. They focus on improving the preservation of animal feed, which in turn ensures food production for humans.

Over the years, Luke and Eastman have engaged in several joint feed preservation research projects. As a consequence of these projects the safety of feed and food has improved, farmers’ losses diminished, and the carbon footprint of food production reduced. Improving feed preservation is important because it has a role in securing food production for humans.

Eastman is a large US-based specialty materials company. Eastman has operations all over the globe, also in Finland where Luke is an important collaborator. The main area for co-operation is improving the quality of animal feed, in particular feed preservation. Eastman’s more specific role in the industry is to develop feed additives for the actual feed producers. Luke has been involved in this research and development work.

Joint brainstorming for better ideas

Arja Seppälä from Eastman describes the nature of their collaboration: “We have engaged in several projects over the years, both publicly funded and private projects. Luke is a good collaborator for us by virtue of its skilled and committed personnel who can conduct the trials we need. We always aim to plan the projects and trials together, which is a convenient way to collaborate. Luke always has flexibility regarding our schedules.”

Also researcher Marcia Franco from Luke appreciates the joint planning approach: “I really like the way we move forward on projects with Eastman. We rarely get direct orders, ‘investigate this’, but instead we jointly identify the problems and proper methods for addressing them. The process involves many discussions and joint brainstorming. We try to build ideas together.”

Luke’s skilled personnel, world-class infrastructure, flexible schedules, and interactive approach to projects has helped us to come up with many new innovations for preserving animal feed. — Arja Seppälä, Eastman

Rehvi project improved grain preservation

One of the public projects Eastman and Luke have engaged in together was Rehvi, which started in 2017 and finished in 2020. Other business participants in the project were Berner and Hankkija. Rehvi addressed one practical topic common in a northern climate: drying the feed grain for preservation is not always optimal in Finland. Instead, the high moisture grain gets crimped in a mill before ensiling in airtight silos or tubes.

“Crimped grain ensiling has been studied and applied already since the 1970s”, tells Seppälä, and continues: “However, forty-fifty years ago the farm sizes were significantly smaller than they now are. Nowadays not all grain can be harvested andcrimped while it is still with optimal high moisture content above 30 %.. Ensiling drier grains has generated new problems such as higher risk of moulds and mycotoxins. In the Rehvi project we innovated and tested solutions for preventing grain spoilage. Explored aspects included for example the choice of preservative and preservative distribution within grain. Results of the project are useful when helping farmers with practical recommendations.”

“Our co-operation with Luke provides us with useful research results. These results are formed as concrete reports which are very useful for us for example when applying for permits for products in Russia or elsewhere. Luke is a big research organization which means that agreements, payments, and all other practicalities are professionally taken care of. This makes our lives easier and enables to concentrate on the substance”, concludes Seppälä.

More information about the Rehvi project:

  • Huuskonen, A., Rinne, M. & Manni, K. 2021. Effects of different barley grain preservation techniques on intake, growth and carcass traits of finishing dairy bulls fed grass silage-based rations. The Journal of Agricultural Science 1–8.
  • Franco, M., Stefanski, T., Jalava, T., Kuoppala, K., Huuskonen, A., Rinne, M. 2019. Fermentation quality and aerobic stability of low moisture-crimped wheat grains manipulated by organic acid-based additives. The Journal of Agricultural Science 157: 245–253.