Selecting suitable hybrids of crops and improving silage management can increase nutrient efficiency and deliver high quality feed to cows.

In collaboration with Yara, Corteva

Why does it matter?

Corn is a high yielding crop that is widely used by farmers to produce silage. To achieve optimal silage quality, it is important to have a complete nutrient supply during crop growth. The quality of the silage has a direct influence on a cow’s ability to digest the silage, due to potential particle variations present in the corn plant. Enhancing digestibility improves nutrient efficiency and milk yield, having a positive impact on the carbon footprint associated with milk production.

How did we solve this?

We achieved higher corn yields by planting select hybrid varieties based on the current soil conditions and created tailored fertilisation plans. Overall, we optimised silage management through improving fermentation, compaction and nutrition analysis, which resulted in better feed for the cows and higher milk production.

On pilot farms, soil diagnostics were conducted before the planting season. Based on the particular soil conditions, action plans for fertilising specific corn hybrids and monitoring growth conditions were created. After harvesting, the corn silage was fermented with different inoculants and analysed to determine potential milk yield. The milk index increased by 4.1% kg milk/ha after 6 months of implementation. Meanwhile, GHG emissions reduced by 2.7% kg CO2e/kg FPCM.

Opportunities for other farms?

Corn and corn silage are a major feed input in a cow’s diet. It is a high yielding crop in many areas of the world. Optimising corn hybrids and silage management can be replicated on all farms with available land.

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