REDESIGNING FORAGE GERMPLASM AND PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR EFFICIENCY, PROFIT, AND SUSTAINABILITY OF DAIRY FARMS
Location: Dairy Forage and Aquaculture Research
Title: New Developments in Forage Varieties
Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Council Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 22, 2009
Publication Date: June 21, 2009
Citation: Martin, N.P., Casler, M.D., Riday, H., Brink, G.E. 2009. New Developments in Forage Varieties. In: Proceedings of 2009 American Forage and Grassland Council Conference, June 21-23, 2009, Grand Rapids, Michigan. p. 6.
Forage crops harvested for hay or haylage or grazed support dairy, beef, sheep and horse production. Additional livestock production from reduced forage acreage supports the need for forage variety improvement. The Consortium for Alfalfa Improvement is a partnership model of government, private non-profit and private profit entities needed to advance long-term, high risk science that potentially will develop large payoffs for ruminant livestock producers. Proof of concept lignin transgenic alfalfa (Medicago sativa) hay fed in total mixed diets with corn silage measured increased fiber digestibility in both lactating dairy cows and rapidly growing Lambs. Digestible dry matter of one transgenic increased 3.5% fat corrected milk over it’s null line by 2.86 lb/hd/day. Alfalfa stems from reduced lignin genotypes increased sugar yield which potentially could increase ethanol > 50% compared to standard alfalfa. Perennial forage legume breeding at U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center (USDFC) is focused on forage legume improvement needs of dairy producers for red clover (Trifolium pratense), alfalfa, kura clover (Trifolium ambiguum). ‘WITT’ birdsfoot (Lotus corniculatus) trefoil has been released as a variety with improved yield and persistence. Forage grass breeding at USDFRC is focused on developing new varieties of perennial grasses for grazing systems in northern U.S. Research. Goals are to increase persistence, tolerance to frequent defoliation, palatability and digestibility, and tolerance to environmental stresses. Variety development is reported for “Spring Green’ festulolium (Festulolium bravnii), a hybrid between meadow fescue and ryegrass, ‘Hidden Valley’ meadow fescue (Schedonorus pratensis), and non-heading orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata).