Aim: Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) strains shown to have broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity were screened for potential as grass silage inoculants. The strains capable of rapidly lowering the pH of the grass matrix and with low proteolytic activity were assessed in laboratory-scale silos in a grass matrix containing natural microbial flora. Methods and Results: Screening of nine candidate strains was performed first in a grass extract medium. The four most promising strains were selected on the basis of growth rate in the medium, capacity to reduce pH and ability to limit the formation of ammonia-N. The efficiency of the selected strains was further assessed in a laboratory-scale ensiling experiment. Untreated (no additive) and formic acid served as controls. All tested inoculants improved silage quality compared with untreated. With one exception (Pediococcus parvulus E315) the fermentation losses in the inoculated silages were even lower than in the acid-treated control silage. Pure lactic acid fermentation was obtained in the timothy-meadow fescue silage with all inoculants. The results obtained in the ensiling experiments were consistent with those of the screening procedure, which appeared to predict correctly the potential of LAB as silage inoculants. The strains with a low ammonia production rate in the grass extract medium behaved similarly in the silage. Especially in this respect the strain Lactobacillus plantarum E76 was superior to the other candidates. Conclusions: The screening method using grass extract proved to be useful in strain selection. Significance and Impact of the Study: The rapid screening method developed for the LAB strains provides a useful tool for more systematic product development of commercial inoculant preparations. Time consuming and laborious ensiling experiments can be limited only to the most promising strains.
- lactic acid bacteria
- silage additive