Technique and animal nutrition: Joint research for innovative products and procedures—Practice-focussed research at the Research Institute of Feed Technology of IFF
by Dipl.-Ing. Alexandra Kirchner, Rolf-Michael Blume, Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Georg Franke, Internationale Forschungsgemeinschaft Futtermitteltechnik e. V. (International Research Association of Feed Technology, IFF), Braunschweig, Germany
In Germany, approximately 80 percent of the produced compound feed is supplied in pelleted form. Since its foundation in 1961, the IFF Research Institute of Feed Technology has been establishing scientific basics for the production of pelleted compound feed and the research works go on since then.
The long-standing and manifold research and development works of the Research Institute of Feed Technology regarding milling, mixing and agglomeration influenced the technological development of the production processes of the European feed industry significantly. On that basis, modern research appeals to the current scientific issues.
Research Institute and Research Association
The Research Institute of Feed Technology is maintained by the International Research Association of Feed Technology (IFF). At present, about 80 national and international companies are combined in the Research Association. Membership is open to any interested company.
The Research Association was founded on the initiative of the German Association of Feed Industry. It exclusively pursues scientific aims to clarify any of the technological issues or problems encountered in industrial compound-feed production through basic research and transfer of findings to real systems and to advance developments in the processes used in feed compounding. The fast and comprehensive transfer of the research findings is ensured by the wide range of seminars.
The most important body in the institute's research focus is the Scientific Advisory Board, which is composed of representatives from relevant research institutions as well as industry and which actively supports research topics based on the requests and needs of the industry.
New project ideas are discussed intensively and launched together. The direct connection of the Research Institute to the industry ensures that current and future research work and results are geared to the application-relevant process development of compound-feed production.
Research is mainly carried out in the institute's technical centre. This offers a variety of possibilities: e.g. for the process engineering investigation of single and compound feeds as well as additives.
The International Research Association for Feed Technology belongs to the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations – AiF in short – which is the leading national organisation promoting applied research and development benefiting Germany's small and medium-sized businesses.
It builds up alliances together with partners from industry, science and government in order to turn ideas into successful products, processes or services in the market. As an industry-driven organisation, the AiF aims at initiating applied research and development (R&D) for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as qualifying the new generation of academics in innovative fields and organising the distribution of scientific knowledge.
100 industrial research associations with approximately 50,000 businesses, mostly SMEs, as members, 1,200 associated research institutes and the AiF's affiliates in Cologne and Berlin contribute to the AiF innovation network.
The AiF manages public programmes of the German federal government to strengthen SME competitiveness. The AiF thus connects enterprises, research and government as well as providing a meeting ground for representatives of business and research.
The AiF's core activity is the so-called Industrial Collective Research ('Industrielle Gemeinschaftsforschung', IGF). Collective research is a mechanism enabling businesses to solve shared problems through shared projects.
This kind of pre-competitive research closes the gap between basic research and industrial application. The results are available for everyone interested and the basis for individual adaptations within enterprises.
The AiF and its research associations provide comprehensive service support in research and development matters, helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to meet the challenges of technological change. Each research association of the AiF represents a certain business sector, mostly SMEs, from specific branches of the economy or fields of technology.
By joining a research association and taking an active part in its committees etc., SMEs directly influence the association's research agenda and priorities. Industrial Collective Research, funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, gives SMEs access to a continuous stream of new knowledge which can be used to develop their own products, processes and services as well as giving them the opportunity to build up their individual innovation networks.
Research projects in industrial collective research
Research projects, which are processed at the Research Institute of Feed Technology, are for the most part carried out in the research programme of industrial collective research (IGF). Equal research needs are bundled in a precompetitive way.
The Project Accompanying Committee is a key element in the design of IGF research projects. The industry representatives take an advisory and directional role in the implementation of the projects. The continuous reporting of project progress as well as the continuous evaluation of the interim results by the committee members ensure the practical relevance and take care for an early dissemination of test results already during the project period.
Currently, public research is concentrating on a collective research project led by the Research Institute of Feed Technology, which includes the establishment of a functional model for the industrial production of insects as a protein and fat supplier of feed.
The aim is to develop a process for the production of insect proteins on a production scale, with automation being a major research focus. Project partners are the University of Applied Sciences Bremerhaven (insect breeding), the Georg-August-University Göttingen (qualitative assessment of feed with regard to feed conversion and animal welfare) and the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (functional model of an industrial production and fractionation plant).
The processing of the insects or individual components and their possible uses in feedstuffs are experimentally investigated at the Research Institute of Feed Technology. From the findings available so far, further research needs can be derived so that work on the use of insects in animal feed will continue in future projects.
Industry research projects and project groups
Industry research projects bundle the research needs of companies or associations and are carried out exclusively for them. In recent years, the IFF Research Institute has carried out industry research to improve the sampling of compound feed as well as the influence of the stress intensity of mechanical hydrothermal treatment stages (pelleting, long-term conditioning, expansion) on the stability of additives.
In 2016, the start of an industry project on Salmonella positive – process optimisation for sound hygienic state of compound feed took place. With the closed research project, in which a total of 15 project partners participate in content and financially, data for the decontamination of single and compound feedstuffs using organic acids and a combination of hydrothermal treatment and simultaneous use of organic acids during conditioning will be determined. The results obtained shall serve to continue the research topic by means of public research funding.
Industry 4.0 'How can we gain more together?' This question is currently being addressed by several workshops and events at the Research Institute of Feed Technology.
Moreover, cooperation networks were established with other research institutes, universities and partners from industry. The digitisation of the agriculture and feed industry enables upstream and downstream production steps to be networked right up to the end consumer (human/animal).
Based on decades of experience in basic research and interdisciplinary cooperation within the framework of applied research, the Research Institute of Feed Technology can be able to act as a link between various branches of industry under the heading 'Digitisation and Industry 4.0 in the compound feed value chain'.
Through an intensive exchange with animal feeders, fattening farms, additive and compound-feed companies, a common basis is to be created in order to learn from the multitude of recorded measurement data and process information. As a result, the value-added chain should be able to become more efficient, resource-saving and develop further in terms of animal welfare.
The Research Institute of Feed Technology offers a variety of services both in the companies and in the institute's technical centre. This includes:
Processing technological investigations on additives and feed mixtures on pilot plant and laboratory scale
Laboratory tests on single and compound feeds (physical and chemical analyses)
Testing the working accuracy of compound-feed and premix-production plants
Determination of the mixing quality of mixers
Advising on the implementation and use of HACCP in existing quality-management systems in the feed industry
Safety-technical assessments within the meaning of § 29b German Federal Immission Control Act (German abbreviation: BImSchG)
Creation of hazard assessments for explosion protection (explosion-protection document)
Energetic process analyses and energy balances as well as advice on the implementation and use of energy-management systems
The special value of the seminar offer of the IFF is characterised by the scientific basis. The main topics can be summarised in three points:
Basic knowledge of compound-feed production, feed law, feed science and animal nutrition
Findings from research and development
Special knowledge of selected procedures and current topics
In addition, special courses for companies, also in English, are regularly carried out on the basis of specific conceptions.
Since 1965, the seminars for specialists and executives have a special tradition. In the seminar, current research results of the Research Institute are presented and supplemented by lectures by external speakers. The seminar is rounded off by a specific supporting programme. In 2019, the 34th seminar took place on 12th September.
IFF Generation Feed
Within the International Research Association of Feed Technology, the Generation Feed formed up to connect a younger generation of feed industry employees, animal feeders, plant builders and researchers.
The Generation Feed members are leaders of tomorrow who today discuss current and future issues, laying the foundation for new research topics. In addition to networking, the focus is on formulating common solutions.
The Generation Feed currently meets twice a year in Germany. Outside the panels, factory tours are planned to give participants a broader view of the industry. It is also planned to meet on an international basis in the future.
On our website, not only the current event programme and a wealth of information on the IFF but also the abstracts of final reports of individual research topics are available.