Trial finds lemongrass oil controls mold, improves feed

Essential oil derived from lemongrass reduced mold, yeast and ethanol and improved overall nutritional value of silage in Brazilian study.

Daniel Korzeniewski |

Essential oils derived from lemongrass reduce mold, improve nutrition of silage

A new study from Brazil suggests lemongrass oil could be useful in controlling mold and other contaminants in animal feed, particularly sugarcane silage, and may hold other benefits.

The study, published in Animal Feed Science and Technology, determined that, as the inclusion of lemongrass oil increased, the amount of mold and yeast present in sugarcane silage decreased. The oil also reduced ethanol concentration and fermentative losses, improving the nutritional value of the silage.

Tiago Del Valle, a co-author on the paper and a professor studying ruminant nutrition at Brazil’s Federal University of Pampa, said the results were in line with previous work that suggests lemongrass holds promise as a feed additive. Based on their results, an inclusion rate of 1.5 to 2.2 milliliters of lemongrass oil per kilogram of silage could be ideal for improving the chemical composition of silage, he said.

Del Valle said it is possible lemongrass oil could be used to control microorganisms beyond mold and yeast. However, he said the mechanism by which lemongrass oil both controlled microbes and improved the silage’s chemical composition is not yet understood. He said further research is required to understand both how lemongrass oil works when added to silage, and how animals would respond if lemongrass oil were added to feed to control mold or other contaminants.

Because lemongrass oil shows promise as a feed additive, Del Valle said his research group plans to undertake some of these questions in the near future.

“In Brazil, we have a big interest in improving sugarcane silage fermentation,” he said. “There are lots of studies in ruminant nutrition evaluating essential oils as a modulator of ruminal fermentation.”

Given for the evidence for the potential antimicrobial characteristics of lemongrass, and the potential profitability for the locals, Del Valle said the use of essential oils derived from lemongrass as a silage additive in particular merited further study.

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