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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Leachate Conductivity As An Index for Quantifying Level of Forage Conditioning

Authors
item Kraus, Timothy
item Koegel, Richard
item Straub, Richard - UNIV OF WISCONSIN-MADISON
item Shinners, Kevin - UNIV OF WISCONSIN-MADISON

Submitted to: ASAE Annual International Meeting
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 13, 1997
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Forage crops are fed principally to dairy and beef cattle. Past research has shown that processing the forage to break open the plant tissue (known as conditioning) can lead to increased digestibility when done severely. Without a reliable means to measure the level of conditioning severity, it is not possible to recommend the proper level of conditioning to achieve the desired increase in digestibility. A measurement was devised which worked reliably and was shown to reflect both the severity of conditioning and the increase in digestibility. The procedure consists of washing 25g of forage in 300g of distilled water. The forage is then filtered from the liquid. The electrical conductivity of the wash water is measured with a readily-available meter. The conductivity measured is a result of electrolytes leaching from damaged tissue into the wash water. It can therefore be used as a measure of conditioning severity. Knowing the level of conditioning can make the benefits of increased digestibility available and can help reduce the costs of production.

Technical Abstract: An objective method for quantifying the level or severity of forage conditioning is proposed and illustrated. The method consists of washing 25g of forage in a prescribed way and then measuring the electrical conductivity of the wash water or leachate. Conditioning ruptures plant cells which contributes electrolytes to the leachate. The conductivity of the leachate therefore is an indirect measure of tissue damage.

Last Modified: 10/23/2014
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