I haven’t been with Echo long - and the first thing I want to say is thank you: I think the exchange is great and I see a huge potential in it.
I worked as a young person as a volunteer in the Amazon of Peru with small farmers with a focus on Ground Cover Plants / “Abonos Verdes” and Agroforestry; one focus was the use of Mucuna pruriens. Since 2 years I am working again in the field of agricultural development projects and would like to
exchange aobut the following proposal:
- The performance of Mucuna pruriens as a ground cover plant especially in the humid tropics is enormous and described in many places.
- Also their seed yield potential is enormous, especially if the plants can climb up trees for example. (We routinely sow them at the borders of fields, which are usually skirted by secondary vegetation a few meters high, to slow the advance of vegetation into the fields).
- Constructive use of the seeds or pods, especially in the feeding of omnivores, chickens, and pigs, opened the possibility of better using this potential and would be a strong impetus for small farmers to expand the use of mucuna, including for soil improvement.
- The limiting factor here is the high content of L-dopa. Again, there are a number of publications, but they are all based on the mature seeds. The techniques discussed (especially roasting, cooking, etc.) are costly in terms of labor and energy, and therefore have little chance of being accepted by small farmers.
- I have not yet found any information in which physiological phase Mucuna synthesis/forms the L-dopa is and whether there are possibly differences in which organs of the plant L-dopa is concentrated.
If anyone has information on this I would be very grateful.
Suggestion if necessary:
Otherwise, I would suggest to clarify this question, by the following procedure:
- Analysis of pods of two varieties of Mucuna (black seeds and ash-colored) at different stages of pod maturity: a) young pods, not yet fully developed in their length, seeds still small; b) pods fleshy, length fully developed, seeds fully developed but green; c) pods fully developed, turning yellow, beginning to mature; d) pods black, with dry, fully developed and seeds. The parameters should be, in each case: dry matter content; protein content; energy content, content of L-dopa.
- If it is found that the content of L-dopa increases significantly only at the end of maturity, then a second series of experiments should follow: At the most promising stage of maturity (high energy and protein <=> low L-dopa), mill and ensilage the pods, possibly adding sugarcane stalks (sugarcane is generally easy to grow in the humid tropics and the sugar content supports lactic acid fermentation). Then an analysis as above of the finished silage.
- I don’t know enough about the chemical properties of L-dopa; does anyone know if adding a simple and inexpensive input, e.g. chemical salt or some other " inexpensive" substance, transforms the L-dopa into a substance that is better tolerated by omnivores (chickens, pigs - ruminants seem to be able to digest L-dopa without significant impairment anyway.
I would appreciate an exchange on this point.
If the questions should be clarified with analyses then I would be grateful for a cooperation: If someone could reliably produce the samples in the vicinity of a laboratory that could perform the analyses, then I would seek funding for the analysis costs.
Thanks in advance
36100 Petersberg - Germany