Sodium formate allowed in organic farming: what are the benefits?

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Gonny van Helvoirt Kremers
Gonny van Helvoirt
Technical Support Manager
+31 416 317 710
Since June of 2012 sodium formate is officially approved in organic farming by the EU. This creates new opportunities for organic production systems to optimize their output. Perstorp offers a wide range of innovative products applicable to milk, meat and egg production, which organic farmers in the EU can now benefit from.

  • Pure sodium formate (ProPhorce™ AC 299) - improves the dietary electrolyte balance and helps to control the pathogenic load.
  • Formic acid buffered with sodium formate (ProPhorce™ AC 600) - the most commonly used organic acid for the acidification of piglet diets can now also be used in organic farming in its buffered, non-corrosive form.
  • Silage additives (ProMyr™) with a high formic acid content are commonly used to ensile substances with a high protein content such as legumes. These products can now also be used in sodium formate buffered, non-corrosive versions.

  • Improve dEB with sodium formate
    ProPhorce™ AC 299 is a dry product based on sodium formate. The benefits of this product are twofold: the sodium part improves the dietary electrolyte balance while the formate part helps to control the pathogenic load and supports protein digestion in young animals.

ProPhorce™ AC 299 also has numerous production related benefits: it is non-corrosive, non-hygroscopic and has good free flowing properties due to a special production process. As such the product is especially well suited for the manufacture of premixtures and for farmers who mix their feeds themselves.

Buffering formic acid with sodium formate
In practical circumstances unbuffered organic acids are highly corrosive and therefore people and equipment need extra protection when pure organic acids are used. Buffering organic acids protects people and equipment from the harmful effects of pure organic acids. We buffer formic acid with sodium formate to create ProPhorce™ AC 600. ProPhorce™ AC 600 is not corrosive to skin or steel which should be a helpful improvement for many organic farmers.

Safe formic acid to acidify piglet diets
Acidification of piglet diets is needed during weaning to support the digestive tract. A well-known and widely used acidifier is formic acid. ProPhorce™ AC 600 offers the same benefits as formic acid in terms of results but thanks to the buffering with sodium formate is far easier and safer to handle.

Safe formic acid in silage additives
Allowing sodium formate for organic farming also enables organic farmers to employ non-corrosive silage additives to ensile legumes. Furthermore, sodium formate does not only buffer the silage additive, it has a large impact on unwanted bacteria in itself as well.

A large portion of all organically produced forage consists of legumes. Legumes are in general difficult to ensile due to the low sugar content and the high protein content. Sugar is required as a substrate for lactic acid fermentation while protein buffers the pH-decrease during the ensiling process. The most effective silage additive for protein rich organic silage is a silage additive with high formic acid content. Formic acid however, is corrosive on machine steel and less safe in handling than sodium formate buffered formic acid (ProPhorce™ AC 600). ProMyr™ NT 570, ProMyr™ XR 680 and ProMyr™NT 610 are all non-corrosive silage additives produced by Perstorp, suitable for ensiling legumes and now allowed to be used for organic farming in the EU.

What's next for organic farming?
Organic agriculture is defined as a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved (IFOAM, 2008).

Approving sodium formate is a big step for organic farming in the EU. In order for organic farming to obtain a competitive position in the market, it needs tools to optimize production within the organic farming philosophy. There are yet big strides to be made so the question remains: what is next?

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