Green revolution: grass protein production underway

Denmark’s first on-farm grass bio-refining plant has now been established. At its opening at Ausum farm, near Struer in Northern Jutland, the former Food Minister, Mogens Jensen, said that grass protein can become a green revolution for agriculture.

The development of grass protein as a new, locally produced protein source has reached a milestone. The first commercial production plant, which has got underway at Ausum farm near Struer in Northern Jutland, will supply organic grass protein to West Jutland Cooperative, which uses grass protein for feed mixes.

This is a significant step towards more sustainable Danish agriculture. Indeed, SEGES, Danish Agriculture and Food Council expects more plants to come on stream soon and for large grass areas to be cultivated for protein production.

In his opening speech, the Minister emphasised that grass is one of the sustainable, locally produced alternative proteins that will help to reduce the amount of imported soya.

Read also: Responsible soya procurement: Danish agriculture sets requirements

The former Food Minister, Mogens Jensen, also pointed out that for centuries, ruminants such as cattle and sheep have been benefiting from the nutrients in their grazing pasture. What is new is that through bio-refining it is possible for "one stomach” livestock such as pigs and chicken – and potentially also humans – to digest the proteins.

“This technology may well turn out to be of enormous significance. I’m sure that this is a concept that can be extended to many other farms in Denmark – and on a much larger scale. It could potentially represent a green revolution for agriculture both because we can replace non-sustainable soya imports and because grass, compared to other crops, is far more environmental and climate-friendly, said Mogens Jensen.

The Danish Agriculture and Food Council added in a statement that Denmark’s farmers can see the potential in the technology and have the willingness and courage to transform ideas into reality. “It is a strength that we have the research and development environments that are able to work together and transform research into practical projects.”

The new grass protein facility was established in connection with the TailorGrass development project, which is being implemented by West Jutland Cooperative, Ausum farm, SEGES and R&D Engineering & Automation, with support from the Green Development and Demonstration Programme (GUDP) under the Ministry of the Environment and Food. During the project, which runs until 2023, SEGES is responsible for collecting experience and data about the operation of the facility and for disseminating knowledge about grass protein production to farmers, companies and others with an interest in grass protein.