The Sustainable Agriculture session at the International DDD Conference (November 2023, Sede Boqer campus) examined how thought paradigms once unique to deserts and drylands affect food production and regenerative agriculture in arid and non-arid regions across the planet.
Dr. Miri Cohen-Zinder from the beef cattle unit gave an overview lecture on a long-term study conducted in Newe Ya’ar in collaboration with Dr. Ariel Shabtay and deals with the Moringa oleifera as a fodder crop, in times of climatic changes.
Ruminant production systems may face major challenges during the current climate change era. With respect to their dietary demand, the supply of high protein- and energy-yielding crops may be at shortage. Thus, the quest for alternative forage resources, to enable sustainable production, characterized by improved feed efficiency (FE), and decreased carbon footprint, is of great significance.
Moringa oleifera (MO), a high protein, antioxidant and vitamin rich plant, is a promising livestock feed. MO is reputed for its adaptability to grow in all types of soils, tolerate hot and dry conditions and low water availability.
By supplementing MO silage to ruminants, we revealed beneficial effects on growth and production performances, which included improved FE, milk yield and composition and product quality. It is assumed that phenolic compounds in the MO, via their capacity to quench ROS and reduce rumen methanogenesis, have enabled energy to be directed for growth and production processes, at the expense of methane and ROS production. In line with the above, our findings from muscle transcriptome analysis of MO-fed lambs indicated differential expression of pathways involved in energy metabolism processes (e.g. mitochondrial biogenesis and ER stress). Currently, our scientific efforts are invested in gaining insight related to the dual effect of dietary MO on methane production and FE.