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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVEMENT OF DAIRY FORAGE AND MANURE MANAGEMENT TO REDUCE ENVIRONMENTAL RISK Title: Prolonged field exposure after cut alfalfa receives rain reduces ensilability and nutritive value

Authors
item Coblentz, Wayne
item Muck, Richard

Submitted to: Forage Focus
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: August 6, 2012
Publication Date: August 30, 2012
Citation: Coblentz, W.K., Muck, R.E. 2012. Prolonged field exposure after cut alfalfa receives rain reduces ensilability and nutritive value. Forage Focus. pp. 21.

Technical Abstract: Conserving high-quality alfalfa silage during unstable, inclement weather is a challenge. Within a series of experiments, rainfall events were applied to wilting alfalfa by both simulated (using a rainfall simulator) and natural methods across four different harvests. Based on our studies, the ensilability of alfalfa is affected only minimally by a single rainfall event shortly after cutting, as long as the ensuing weather supports rapid dehydration to an appropriate ensiling moisture. However, achieving good silage fermentation with cut-alfalfa subjected to prolonged exposure under less-ideal field-drying conditions appears to be far less likely. It also should be noted that these studies did not include assessments of bacterial populations associated with the forage; these populations also could be altered by rainfall events and subsequently affect silage fermentation.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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