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Edible bale wrap for hay, silage intended to reduce waste

BioNet biopolymer was developed specifically for farms to wrap hay and silage by Imperial College London Ph.D. students.

Three horses eating hay from the ground in pasture, standing clo
Three horses eating hay from the ground in pasture, standing close to each other

Three doctoral students at Imperial College London have developed a patent pending product to wrap hay and silage, reducing on-farm waste and improving animal safety.

The biopolymer netting, called BioNet, was created by students Nick Aristidou, Will Joyce and Stelios Chatzimichail.

Joyce said came up with the BioNet idea because his family's beef operation was creating a lot of waste from the wrap that was used on hay and silage bales, and because one of its cattle died after it ate the wrap.

But, unlike the traditional wrap, BioNet is safe for consumption.

β€œWe’ve eaten it and my colleague has fed it to his cattle,” said Aristidou in the Farmers Weekly report.

Going forward

The students still need to do more testing of the product, which could be costly. The trio’s invention has reached the finals of the Imperial College London Venture Catalyst Challenge (VCC), and is in the running for GBP10,000 (US$12,953) in funding.

According to the report, the trio is looking at ways to lace the wrap with nutrients or probiotics. Researchers will then test the product for its nutritional quality and whether it is safe to eat.

The students plan to go forward with on-farm testing of the product within the next 24 months. Assuming things go well, they expect the product to be available within three to five years.

Their end goal is for all livestock feeders to use the product. However, they understand they must first better understand what nutrients the farmers want in the wrap before they start mass production of the wrap.

β€œWe can tailor what goes into the plastic for different animals – we could make one for equine animals, one for sheep, one for cattle,” Aristidou said in the report.

The team of students is confident that if they nail down the nutritional aspects and production plans they can create an affordable product for livestock producers.

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