Materials of any research never lose their relevance. They either give “food” for new thinking, or confirm or refute certain judgments, conclusions.
All this concerns the research of amaranth, which were carried out for several decades, but also are carried out today. They relate to both the effect of amaranth on human health, and the possibility of using the plant in the production of feed for cattle, pigs and other animals.
Today we present to your court the research of P. Kovbasyuk, Candidate of Agricultural Sciences, doctor of the department of fodder production and agricultural reclamation, National Agrarian University.
What is intensification? Roughly speaking, this is a process aimed at the development of production. For this purpose, more effective methods and methods of conducting production, economic activity, the use of new capacities or raw materials are used.
In his work, which has been around for many years, he talks about how exactly and why amaranth can help with the intensification of fodder production. The materials presented in this article will be relevant for farmers engaged in both growing plants for feed and engaged in animal husbandry.
Amaranth – one of the most productive forage crops
As P. Kovbasiuk pointed out in his studies, amaranth (schiritsa) is a valuable feed crop, and grain is characterized by high nutritional and medicinal properties.
However, despite the high forage, food and medicinal properties, amaranth culture in Ukraine still occupies small acreage. Naturally, in comparison with other cultures. Amaranth is grown advantage in Kiev, Kirovograd, Nikolaev, Dnipropetrovsk and Odessa regions.
Amaranth is one of the most productive fodder crops. High yields of this crop (800-1300 centners of green mass per hectare of cultivated area) are obtained in the United States of America, Japan.
Earlier, when P. Kovbasiuk prepared the material for his research, in the farms of the Mironovsky, Boguslavsky districts of the Kiev region, the Gaysinsky district of the Vinnitsa region, the yield of amaranth already reached 800-1020 centners of green mass per hectare of sown area.
Amaranth culture provides high yields of not only green mass, but also grain. High grain yields (45-63 centner per hectare) are obtained in Bulgaria, Ethiopia, and Germany.
In the Polesia zone, amaranth provides a seed yield of 20-25 centner per hectare, and in the south of Ukraine more than 40 centner per hectare. Amaranth reproduction rate is high due to low seed size and low seeding rate (1.5-2 kg per hectare). Thus, one amaranth plant provides from 300 to 600,000 grains, which is enough for seeding on an area of 0.1-0.2 hectares.
In the United States, Germany, and some African countries in recent years, the possibilities of growing amaranth grain on an industrial scale for use in the food industry and feed production have been widely studied.
The researchers of these countries came to the conclusion that amaranth should become an alternative culture:
Especially in those areas and regions where there is a shortage of moisture – that is, a dry climate.
What is amaranth
The most fruitful and common species is tail amaranth, panicled amaranth.
The first mention deserves a highly developed root system. It is thanks to its root system that the plant is able to grow in arid areas, as it receives moisture from the depths of the soil.
In addition, the fact that amaranth is absolutely not whimsical to the characteristics, composition and characteristics of the soil deserves mentioning. It is suitable for growing on saline and even acidic soil types.
The plant has an average cold resistance, tolerates hearing periods of the year quite well, and is also resistant to spring and autumn frosts.
One of the important biological features of amaranth is its plasticity. That is, it is about the fact that amaranth is well adapted to completely different climatic zones and conditions.
Already at the time of publication of the work P. Kovbasiuk, it was found that the introduction of amaranth in the diet of animals can significantly save on the consumption of expensive feed concentrates. In animal husbandry, amaranth is used to produce various types of feed. In particular, it is suitable for feeding animals in the following types and conditions:
- green mass;
- feed pellets and briquettes;
- as well as grass meal.
If the green mass is combined with other cereals, you can get excellent, well fermented mass.
The presence of fertile land, a long growing season, a sufficient number of warm days and sunshine, natural water supply – all this makes it possible to grow amaranth absolutely in all regions of Ukraine. And not only grow, but also guaranteed to collect high yields, both green mass and grain. What makes amaranth, according to P. Kovbasiuk, is an economically favorable feed crop.
The true value of amaranth for livestock
It should be understood that the true value of each feed crop is determined, first of all, by the content of protein and other essential nutrients. Let’s look at exactly what is the value of amaranth. P. Kovbasyuk pigs on amaranth feed formulated a comparative analysis with other crops used in animal husbandry for the production of feed.
So, amaranth belongs to the group of high-protein plants that readily eat all kinds of animals. Compared with corn, Sudanese grass and other feed crops, the green mass of amaranth is positively distinguished by its protein content.
During the period of fodder maturity on a completely dry mass, the protein content is:
- in amaranth is 19-20.6%;
- in corn – 10.5-11.9%
- in Sudanese herbs – 12.6-13.8%.
The content of protein and other valuable substances amaranth is not inferior to the traditional, the most common legumes (alfalfa, clover).
In green mass amaranth contains on average:
- 2.5-4.5% protein;
- 0.5-1.0% fat;
- 2.5-4.6% ash;
- more than 12% of nitrogen-free extractives.
100.3 kilograms of green mass accounts for 16.3-19.7 feed units, for one feed unit – 137-192 grams of digestible protein.
Note. Studies have shown that green mass, silage contribute to increased lactation in animals.
Amaranth silage collected in the flowering phase contains:
- 3.5-3.8% protein;
- 0.9-1.0% fat;
- 4.2-4.3% ash.
Per 100 kg of silage there are 16.2-18.9 feed units, 2.4-2.6 kg of digestible protein and 149-156 grams per feed unit.
Amaranth feeds are characterized by high ash content and micro and macronutrient content. Especially in the mass of such important for animal elements as:
There is a lot of vitamin E in the green mass, which has a positive effect on the reproductive function of animals and reduces their rawness.
Amaranth plants willingly eat pigs. When grazing on crops, daily weight gain in weight increases significantly, product quality improves, the yield of offspring grows.
The great value of amaranth is that it is able to grow after mowing, i.e. characterized by good ottavnost.
In the south of Ukraine, culture can provide two or three cuttings per season. Moreover, amaranth grass is characterized by high rates of chemical composition, it is fully eaten by animals.
It should be remembered: for intensive regrowth, it is necessary to mow high – according to P. Kovbasyuk, the level of cutting should be at least 15-20 cm
All this indicates that amaranth provides a large yield of valuable feed per unit area with much lower costs compared to other species used in the production of animal feed.
Valuable food is amaranth grain
As a result of research, it was found that amaranth grain contains:
- 15-17.5% protein;
- 7-8% fat;
- 3.2-4% ash;
- 61-64% starch;
- many micro and macronutrients, vitamins.
In terms of protein content in seeds (15-17%), amaranth surpasses all other crops that are traditionally used in animal husbandry in the production of feed:
- wheat (12-14%);
- barley (12-13%);
- corn (9-10%).
On a 100-point scale, the highest level of biological value is occupied by amaranth grain protein – 75 points (wheat – 57, soybeans – 68, corn – 44) and even slightly higher, compared to cow’s milk – 72 points.
Amaranth grain flour was highly rated – 100 points due to its optimal amino acid composition.
From the foregoing, it follows that the high adaptability of amaranth to various soil and climatic conditions, resistance to a small amount of moisture, high yield of green mass and seeds, the ability to grow quickly after mowing, make the culture ideal for use in animal husbandry.
Features of the cultivation of amaranth
High crop yield is ensured only by the conditions of a high level of farming culture, the fulfillment of agrotechnical requirements at all levels of the cultivation technology, the correct placement of the crop on the fields, crop rotation, timely and high-quality execution of soil tillage operations, fertilizer, seed preparation, etc.
The best precursors for amaranth are weeding crops:
- root vegetables.
And also winter wheat and rye, spring grain crops (among the latter the best is barley), vegetable crops, and crops of forage crops.
Actually, different cultures can be predecessors, but the best are the ones that free the area early.
How to prepare the soil for amaranth crops
Small seed and slow growth of plants in the first period after sowing, sensitivity to weed infestation requires careful soil preparation
Preparing the soil for amaranth, you need to achieve its condition in order to ensure:
- maximum moisture retention;
- destruction of as many weeds as possible;
- the creation of favorable conditions for high-quality sowing and seed germination and plant development, especially at the beginning of the growing season.
Soil processing under amaranth begins with chaffing of stubble after stubble precursors to a depth of 10–12 cm, and sowing amaranth need for peeling is repeated. This event provides weed control, preservation of moisture in the soil, improves the conditions for plowing.
The land is plowed with a skimmer plow to the depth of the arable layer, depending on the type of soil. Pre-sowing spring soil preparation begins with early-spring closure of moisture by harrowing. For a more complete destruction of weeds before sowing the soil is cultivated to a depth of 6-8 cm.
Since the seeds are very small, and during sowing it is wrapped to a depth of no more than 0.5-1 cm, an important operation is the careful alignment of the soil surface. Therefore, before sowing, the field must be leveled using a loop-drag.
During the sowing of amaranth, it is necessary to ensure that the seed is wrapped to the same depth in order to obtain friendly shoots. To do this, before sowing and after it rolls the ground rollers.
The culture of amaranth forms a high yield, so it is demanding for fertilizer. To obtain high yields, it is necessary to plow 20-30 tons of manure per hectare of arable land for plowing, and mineral fertilizers before sowing:
- nitrogen 45-60 kg / ha;
- phosphorus 60 kg / ha;
- potassium 90 kg / ha.
Dates of sowing
In the technology of growing amaranth, the sowing time is of great importance; field germination, plant development, density and yield depend on the correct choice of which.
The best time for sowing is early spring. To obtain grain, the crop is sown only in early spring, and summer terms of sowing are possible for green mass. It should be noted that the early spring crops provide a higher yield compared with other terms.
The seeding rates of culture depend on the purpose for which the culture is used, and on the method of sowing. Preparation of the filler for sowing amaranth
For fodder purposes, the seeding rate is 1-1.5, and for seeds – 0.5-0.8 kg / ha. For planting crops using conventional grain planters SZ-3.6. Sow culture for fodder purposes with a width between the lines of 30-45 cm, for seeds – a wide-row method with row spacing of 60-70 cm.
The depth of seeding should be no deeper than 0.5-1 cm. There is scientific evidence that deep seeding does not germinate, therefore the seeding depth must be clearly maintained.
Amaranth seeds are very loose, and the seeding rate is very small. Therefore, for evenly sowing a small number of seeds, ballast (roasted millet seeds, colza, rapeseed, dry superphosphate) must be used for it. After sowing the culture to obtain amicable shoots spend rolling.
Thus, from the materials prepared by P. Kovbasiuk at one time, it can be concluded that amaranth is one of the most realistic and reliable sources of replenishment of vegetable protein and balancing feed rations regarding digestible protein.
High productivity and nutritional value of the culture indicate that its widespread introduction into agricultural production is a reliable way to strengthen the food supply and intensify fodder production.
Of course, at present, the characteristics of sowing and caring for crops, amaranth harvesting have changed. However, all the technical features are not so important in this article. Since every farmer will be able to rebuild his farm, the main thing is to know what to rebuild. In our opinion, amaranth is the optimal culture for such a restructuring.
If you are interested in what equipment is used for planting and harvesting amaranth, preparing the soil for it, we recommend contacting the Association of Amaranth Producers of Ukraine. Here you will be provided with all the necessary information.