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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research » Research » Research Project #445888

Research Project: Innovative Forage Management Strategies in Central Wisconsin

Location: Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research

Project Number: 5090-21500-003-004-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 1, 2024
End Date: Apr 30, 2026

Specific objectives of the cooperative project include: 1) assess pasture management strategies to improve nitrogen efficiency; 2) assess different harvest strategies for pearl millet forage and potential inclusion in dairy heifer and cow diets; and 3) assess manure application strategies on perennial grass forage production.

Objective 1. Grass pasture stands can be limited by nitrogen fertility resulting in lower forage yield and protein concentration. Inclusion of legumes in pastures can reduce nitrogen fertilizer needs by capturing atmospheric nitrogen for protein production and also provide nitrogen to the grass species. Our goal is to evaluate pasture forage yield, nutritive value, and dairy heifer growth when the forage includes only grass and is either not provided nitrogen fertilizer, provided fertilizer or red clover is included. Objective 2. As dairy farms deal with a more variable climate, farms are looking for forage options to help fill forage gaps after a cereal grain forage harvest and after a perennial forage stand is terminated or failed. Pearl millet is a warm-season annual which has not been extensively researched in Wisconsin with good yield potential and inclusion in either lactating cow or heifer diets. Our goal is to assess the forage yield, nutritive value of different pearl millet hybrids harvested using either a single or multiple harvest strategy. We will also test dairy heifer growth when fed a diet with a single harvest pearl millet silage and lactating cow production when fed a diet with a multiple harvest pearl millet silage. Objective 3. Perennial cool-season grasses are becoming more common in Wisconsin due to their persistence and high nutritive value potential. However, pure grass stands require nitrogen fertilization typically using inorganic fertilizer or manure. Manure is usually surface applied on top of the soil and plant without incorporation into the soil which drastically reduces the use of nitrogen. New methods have been developed to improve nitrogen use by either injecting or band applying manure. Our goal is to test the effect of different liquid manure application methods (surface, injection, or trailing shoe/band application) on grass forage yield, nutritive value, soil nutrients, and greenhouse gas emissions.