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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Plant Science Research » Research » Research Project #437302

Research Project: Advancing the Use of Alfalfa Leaf Protein Concentrate in Aquafeeds To Enhance Finfish Production

Location: Plant Science Research

Project Number: 5062-12210-004-36-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2019
End Date: Aug 31, 2021

Objective:
1. Evaluate digestibility and production efficiency of alfalfa protein concentrate (APC) as a component of diets for rainbow trout. 2. Evaluate plant defensins for protecting rainbow trout from pathogens. 3. Carry out technoeconomic and market analyses of alfalfa protein concentrate production to determine the costs and benefits as an on-farm co-product in rotation with corn grain.

Approach:
For evaluating digestibility, in the first year four levels of commercially-available APC will be used in formulating pelleted feed for rainbow trout. Feeding studies will be done to determine digestibility, feed-intake, feed conversion, growth, proximate composition, blood chemistry, liver and intestinal histology. Pellet physical properties and the effect of APC on water quality will also be measured. In the second year, the optimal feed formulation will be tested in larger on-farm trials. To evaluate defensins, the gamma core peptides will be incorporated at different levels to determine their activity against trout pathogens. Full length defensins will be produced in vitro and in planta for incorporation in feed and in water for larger scale experiments to evaluate animal health. Yield and stability of MtDef5 produced in alfalfa will be measured. For the economic analyses, the production costs for establishing and harvesting alfalfa for APC and the value of APC, coproducts and nitrogen credits to the next crop will be used to develop an web-based decision tool for growers to evaluate incorporating APC production into their farming operations.