Research and development

At Ecosyl, we’re leading the way in the research and development of new technologies and management techniques which aim to improve the efficiency of animal production from forage.

Our research group was originally set up by Dr Terry Owen, a specialist in microbiology and forage science.

Now the team of forage researchers is lead by Philip Jones at our new Research and Develoment Facilities in Port Talbot, Wales, collaborating with universities, colleges and research institutes in the UK and around the world.

Research Lab

A long tradition of research and development traces back to our origin as part of ICI Agriculture and the same principles of developing proven, cost effective products still holds true today.

We actively encourage the independent authentication of research through its publication in the scientific press. Our aim is to ensure easy access to any research involving our products. We also provide briefings, dossiers, publications and advice to researchers, advisors, farmers and the agricultural media.

Key technology

During our many years of research and development, we have developed important advances and world leading expertise in five key areas of technology:

  • MTD/1
  • DoubleAction
  • Continuous culture
  • Bacterial stabilisation
  • ULV application

Current activities

The Research Group has several areas of focus:

  • Quality control: ensuring our current products meet specification.
  • Product formulation: reviewing product components to ensure they meet the high quality standards we set for our product range.
  • Product development: developing novel bacterial systems from conception to product launch.
  • New strain selection: finding and developing new strains of silage bacteria with novel properties.

Our most recent products, launched as a result of our near market research and development activity are:

  • Ecocool
  • Ecosyl 100 and the Ecosyler applicator
  • Ecosyl ULV
  • Double Action (DA) products
  • Varicool
  • EcoTMR

Our most recent research development has been Ecocool which combines two elite strains of bacteria; Lactobacillus plantarum strain MTD/1 for improved fermentation and Lactobacillus buchneri strain PJB/1 for improved aerobic stability. This inoculant can be applied at any rate from ULV(20 ml/t) to standard (2 litres/t).

In response to contractors’ demand for lower volume application we to minimise downtime, our expertise in formulation technology led to the development of the Ecosyl ULV system.  Our team were able to provide an Ecosyl formulation that could be made up highly concentrated to apply 1 million bacteria/g forage at rates as low as 10 ml/t without any loss in bacterial viability for up to 3 days.   Ecosyl ULV was the first inoculant to be able to do this.

A special highly accurate ULV applicator, the Ecosyler, was also developed which allowed contractors to work all day on a single fill.

This system was developed further with the launch of Ecosyl 100 which allowed application of Ecosyl at any rate from 20 ml/t to 2 litres/t, offering further flexibility.

Higher grass silage dry matters as well as more use of maize and wholecrop cereals meant that aerobic spoilage became an increasing issue which we recognised early on and addressed with the launch of our DoubleAction range. This provides improvements in fermentation and animal performance from Lactobacillus plantarum MTD/1 as well as improved aerobic stability from potassium sorbate chemical preservative. Unusually, the inoculant can be applied at the same time as the chemical due to the protection afforded to the bacteria by DoubleAction Technology, making these additives very easy to use.’

A further development of the DA range, Varicool, applies the inoculant and chemical separately, both at low volume. This allows more flexible application of the sorbate preservative, depending on the risk of aerobic spoilage to the clamp.

Increased aeration of feed due to the use of TMR wagons has led to feed going off faster in the feed trough. This led us to develop EcoTMR which combines two well-known chemical preservatives, potassium sorbate and sodium propionate, for improved TMR aerobic stability in the feed trough.’

The research summaries listed here are generated by Volac's forage scientists. They are a précis of the work carried out both inside the company and at research institutes or Universities. Please contact us if you would like a copy.

  • Ecosyl trials summary
  • Ecosyl trials summary - short
  • Ecosyl beef trialssummary
  • LEGSIL trials summary
  • Ecosyl and wet silages
  • Ecosyl and high DM silages
  • Ecosyl lucerne trials summary

We believe it is important that we can back up our claims through independent trials. The research papers listed below are only a sample of the background work on our products.

The following list of references represents only a selection from the extensive list of independent research reported on our products, most of which is published. Copies are available on request - please contact us for a copy.

Bolsen, KK, B Kirch, A Laytimi, J Hoover & H Ilg (1988) Inoculant-treated corn silages for growing cattle. Kansas State University 75th Annual Cattlemen’s Day.

Bolsen, KK, A Laytimi, RA Hart, F Niroomand & J Hoover (1989.) Additive-treated corn and forage sorghum silages for growing cattle. Kansas State University, 76th Annual Cattlemen’s Day.

Buchanan-Smith, JG (1990) Effect of ‘Ecosyl’ on alfalfa silage fermentation. University of Guelph report to CIL Inc. (ICI Canada).

Cunningham, DF (1994) Viability counts in silage inoculants. Report by Llysfasi College, Clwyd, UK.
Dewhurst, RJ, DWR Davies, WJ Fisher, J Bertilsson & RJ Wilkins (2000). Intake and milk production responses to legume silages offered to Holstein-Friesian cows. Proceedings of the British Society of Animal Science, p11.

Dewhurst, RJ, DWR Davies, WJ Fisher, J Bertilsson & RJ Wilkins (2001). Evaluation of legume silages offered to Holstein-Friesian cows with small amounts of concentrates. Proceedings of the British Society of Animal Science, p187.

Dublin City University (1997.) Most inoculants not up to spec. Irish Farmers Journal, 12 April.

Fish, SL (1990.) Effects of a silage microbial inoculant on animal performance and silage digestibility. MSc Thesis, Michigan State University, USA.

Gordon, FJ (1992) Improving the feeding value of silage through biological control. In Biotechnology in the Feed Industry, Proceedings of Alltech’s Eighth Annual Symposium (TP Lyons, ed), Alltech Technical Publications, 87-97.

ICI Biological Products, Billingham, (1984-85). Experimental details for ICI 1984 trials, Internal report.

Keady, TWJ & RWJ Steen (1994) Effects of treating low dry matter grass with a bacterial inoculant on the intake and performance of beef cattle and studies of its mode of action. Grass & Forage Sci., 49, 438-446.

Keady, TWJ & RWJ Steen (1995) The effects of treating low dry matter, low digestibility grass with a bacterial inoculant on the intake and performance of beef cattle and studies on mode of action. Grass & Forage Sci.,50, 217-226.

Keady, TWJ (1996) Will it improve yield? Farmers Weekly, 22 Nov.

Keady, TWJ (2001) Digestibility vital for performance. Farmers Weekly, 9 March.

Kennedy, SJ, HI Gracey, EF Unsworth, RWJ Steen & R Anderson (1989) Evaluation studies in the development of a commercial bacterial inoculant as an additive for grass silage. 2. Responses in finishing cattle. Grass & Forage Sci., 44, 371-380.

Kung, L Jr & RE Muck (1997) Animal responses to silage additives. Proceedings from the Silage: Field to Feedbunk North American Conference, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA, February 1997, 200-210.

Kung L Jr (2000) Use of forage additives in silage fermentation. 2000-01 Direct-fed Microbial, Enzyme & Forage Additive Compendium. The Miller Publishing Company, Minnesota, USA, 39-44.

Marley, G, G. Pahlow, H-H Hermann & TR Owen (2005) A comparison of the efficacy of an ultra-low volume applicator for liquid-applied silage inoculants with that of a conventional applicator. XIVth International Silage Conference, July 2005, Belfast

Marley, G (2006) Efficiency of ultra-low volume inoculant application of Lactobacillus plantarum MTD/1. 8th British Grassland Research Conference, 4-6 September 2006, Cirencester

Moran, JP & TR Owen (1993) The efficacy of a bacterial inoculant on silage fermentation under a range of ensiling conditions. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Silage Research, Dublin, Sept 1993.

Mulrooney, CN & L. King Jr. (2009) The effect of water temperature on the viability of silage inoculants. J. Dairy Sci.,91, 236-240

O’Kiely, P (1990) Evaluation of a Lactobacillus plantarum inoculant as an additive for silage fed to heifers. British Society of Animal Production, Winter Meeting, March 1990.

O’Kiely, P (1991) Further evaluation of a Lactobacillus inoculant as an additive for silage offered to heifers. 17th Research Meeting, Irish Grassland and Animal Production Association, April 1991.

O’Kiely, P (1994) Effects of adding Lactobacillus plantarum inoculant to grass ensiled at different dry matter concentrations and offered to beef cattle. British Society of Animal Production, Winter Meeting, March 1994.

Osman, S and A Beattie (1998) An independent review of the effects of Ecosyl silage inoculant on the performance of dairy cattle in fourteen trials. Report by the Dairy Research & Consultancy Ltd, University of Reading.

Owen, TR (2002a)The effects of a silage inoculant containing Lactobacillus plantarum strain MTD/1 on the digestibility of grass silage as determined in vivo. Proceedings of the XIIIth International Silage Conference, Auchincruive, Sept 2002.

Owen, TR (2002b) The effects of a combination of a silage inoculant and a chemical preservative on the fermentation and aerobic stability of whole-crop cereal and maize silage. Proceedings of the XIIIth International Silage Conference, Auchincruive, Sept 2002.

Pahlow, G (1990) Microbiology of inoculants, crops and silages. Proceedings of the Eurobac Conference, Uppsala, Sweden, August 1986, (P Lingvall & S Lindgren, eds), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Phillip, LE, L Underhill & H Garino (1992) Growth performance, appetite and plasma ammonia concentrations in heifers fed inoculated lucerne prior to ensilage, then supplemented with sodium bicarbonate. Grass & Forage Sci., 47, 28-35.

Rooke, JA & F Kafilzadeh (1994). The effect upon fermentation and nutritive value of silages produced after treatment by three different inoculants of lactic acid bacteria applied alone or in combination. Grass & Forage Sci., 49, 324-333.

Royal Agricultural College (1998) Silage inoculant shock. British Dairying, February.

Shiels, P, P O’Kiely, AP Moloney & PJ Caffrey (1994) The effects of a bacterial inoculant (Lactobacillus plantarum) and formic acid on the fermentation and nutritive value of difficult-to-ensile grass ensile in farm silos. 20th Annual Research Meeting, Irish Grassland and Animal Production Association, March 1994.

Steen, RWJ, EF Unsworth, HI Gracey, SJ Kennedy, R Anderson & DJ Kilpatrick (1989) Evaluation studies in the development of a commercial bacterial inoculant as an additive for grass silage. 3. Responses in growing cattle and interaction with protein supplementation. Grass & Forage Sci, 44, 381-390.

Unsworth, EF & CS Mayne (1993) The energy balance of lactating dairy cows offered restricted fermentation or fermented grass silage. Proceedings of the 10th Silage Research Conference, Dublin, Ireland, September 1993, 180-181.

Vigezzi, P, C Rottingni, B Bianchi Salvadori, P Avino, P Rota & A Giardini (1996) Effects of inoculation of low moisture lucerne silage with Lactobacillus plantarum strains selected from lucerne epiphytic microflora. Proceedings of the XIth International Silage Conference, Aberystwyth, UK, September 1996, 260-261.

Weddell, J (1986) Report on the performance of Add-F, Scotsil and Ecosyl silage additives at MacRobert Experimental Farm, Aberdeen, 1985-86. Scottish Agricultural Colleges Research & Development Note No. 32, November 1986.

Weinberg, ZG & RE Muck (1996) New trends and opportunities in the development and use of inoculants in silage. FEMS Microbiology Reviews, 19, 53-68.

Wilkinson, MJ (1996) Bacterial numbers are the key to inoculant success. Dairy Farmer, January, p43.

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