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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Research Project #440875

Research Project: Bringing Interseeding of Alfalfa into Corn to the Farm through On-Farm Research, Demonstration, and Outreach

Location: Dairy Forage Research

Project Number: 5090-21500-002-009-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 25, 2021
End Date: Sep 24, 2024

1) Implement on-farm large-plot trials to evaluate the performance of alfalfa interseeded into corn. a. Evaluate the utility and return on investment of agrochemicals used to enhance establishment of alfalfa interseeded into corn. b. Monitor the effects of soil nutrient availability, pests, and field variability on interseeded alfalfa establishment and crop yields. 2) Conduct outreach efforts including coordinated field days and other outputs by working with local farmer-led watershed groups and UW-Extension colleagues.

Objective 1: The Cooperator will conduct on-farm large plot trials at a minimum of three diverse locations in Wisconsin and will establish plots in large strips to evaluate and demonstrate the interseeding of alfalfa into corn. Depending on location constraints and grower needs, two or three replications will be used at each location. The following treatments will be evaluated at each site: 1) Alfalfa interseeded into corn with application of prohexadione, foliar fungicide, and foliar insecticide. 2) Alfalfa interseeded into corn with application of only foliar fungicide and foliar insecticide. 3) Conventional solo-seeded corn followed by spring seeded alfalfa. Field locations will be sought that are designated by producers for last year corn silage followed by spring seeded alfalfa. Using grower harvesting equipment and calibrated scales, yields of corn silage strips, with and without interseeded alfalfa, will be evaluated in year 1. Alfalfa yield in strips will then be evaluated in year 2. The cooperator will assess soil fertility prior to planting and manage agrichemical applications for disease, insect and weed control and will assess alfalfa density, biomass, ground cover and evaluate corn silage and alfalfa forage quality by NIRS. A USDA UAV with a camera and other sensors will be used to map and monitor crop health during the growing season and this will be used to guide additional data collection for identifying factors that influence alfalfa establishment and crop yields. Objective 2: Information obtained from previous research and the on-farm trials conducted for Objective 1 will be disseminated to farmers and crop consultants throughout Wisconsin and other states by the Cooperator. At each trial location, a summer field tour will be coordinated, and an educational program will be developed for a field day. At field days, the Cooperator and USDA will inform audiences of best practices for implementing alfalfa interseeding in corn. Growers participating in on-farm trials will also discuss their experiences with interseeding alfalfa into corn and will help to identify additional needs for research. Outreach materials will also be developed and presented for print, digital and video formats. Materials will be publicized by Cooperator in numerous outlets, including the Cooperator’s newsletters, social and traditional media contacts, and at forage production meetings. To further educate growers, regional specialists will work directly with growers in other locations around the state and staff will participate in local and regional outreach events, and results l also be presented in print, digital and video formats.