In the early 20th century, a German immigrant in Montreal started a bakery that eventually evolved into a baking yeast company. The French speaking people in Montreal found the man’s name impossible to pronounce, so they called him Lallemand – “that guy from Germany.” And so was the start of Lallemand, Inc – a global company with plants, distribution centers, or offices in 36 countries.
The focus of Lallemand today is still baking yeast, but the company has diversified into other products, like wine yeast and animal nutrition. Miner Institute and Lallemand’s Animal Nutrition division began a collaboration to create a Silage Center of Excellence at Miner Institute at the beginning of 2014. The goal is for the center to bring greater focus on research to answer critical questions that the dairy industry faces as it strives to feed higher forage diets and boost profitability on farms. Pascal Drouin, a Lallemand microbiologist, has been working at Miner Institute as part of the center since January.
Pascal grew up in Sherbrooke, Québec and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Sherbrooke University and a Ph.D. from Laval University in Quebec City. Prior to his employment with Lallemand, Pascal spent 12 years as an associate professor of silage microbiology and forest microbial ecology at the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue in northwestern Québec, about 7 hours northwest of Montréal. The University is one of nine in the University of Quebec network, Pascal said. He is actually still an associate professor there and advises one last Ph.D. student who will defend his thesis in November.
Research conducted at the center will have a silage microbiology focus, Pascal said. Silage is the natural fermentation of forage, and was introduced in the United States for application on farms more than 100 years ago, he said. Lallemand has developed silage inoculants which are used to increase the presence of the proper bacteria strains to increase the rate of fermentation and inhibit the growth of detrimental microorganisms. Some research will be conducted that looks at the effectiveness of these products, Pascal explained, while also looking for new bacteria strains and new marketing opportunities for the products.
“Miner is recognized and well-respected in dairy science and research,” Pascal said, citing it as a great location for the Silage Center of Excellence. “Silage microbiologists and animal nutritionists often do research separately while working toward similar objectives,” he said. In this situation, those parties are working together, which makes the relationship between Miner Institute and Lallemand “unique and beneficial.” Both Lallemand and Miner Institute, though, continue to conduct independent research with other collaborators.
In July, Pascal welcomed Salvador Ordaz to an intern position with the Center. Salvador grew up in La Laguna, Mexico, in the northern part of the country. It is one of the biggest dairy areas in Mexico, Salvador said.
Salvador’s father and grandfather had a dairy farm until Salvador was about five years old. His father now works for a dairy company. Salvador attended the Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro (UAAAN MX), an agricultural teaching institution in the Mexican state of Coahuila. During college, Salvador spent summers helping his dad with silage management. His father’s company invited Salvador and his dad to attend a silage conference in Finland, which they did. There Salvador met two executives from Lallemand and he told them he was almost finished with his degree. They arranged for him to become the intern with Pascal at Miner Institute, which Salvador had never heard of before he arrived this summer. After he finishes his internship with Pascal, Salvador hopes to go on to graduate school, possibly in the U.S.
Pascal said that he sees the Silage Center of Excellence and the collaboration between Miner Institute and Lallemand continuing on for the foreseeable future and is looking forward to more dynamic research with the Institute research staff.