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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #332033

Research Project: Redesigning Forage Genetics, Management, and Harvesting for Efficiency, Profit, and Sustainability in Dairy and Bioenergy Production Systems

Location: Dairy Forage Research

Title: Establishing alfalfa in silage corn

Author
item Grabber, John
item Renz, Mark - University Of Wisconsin
item Riday, Heathcliffe
item Osterholtz, William - University Of Wisconsin
item Lauer, Joseph - University Of Wisconsin
item Vadas, Peter

Submitted to: Agricultural Experiment Station Publication
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/19/2016
Publication Date: 8/31/2016
Citation: Grabber, J.H., Renz, M.J., Riday, H., Osterholtz, W.R., Lauer, J.G., Vadas, P.A. 2016. Establishing alfalfa in silage corn [abstract]. Agricultural Experiment Station Publication. Paper No. 15.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: According to recent agricultural statistics, alfalfa was planted on 0.44 million acres and harvested from 2.2 million acres and silage corn was planted and harvested from 1.0 million acres per year in Wisconsin. Because both crops are often grown in rotation, alfalfa could be interseeded at corn planting to serve as a dual-purpose crop for providing groundcover during silage corn production and forage during subsequent growing seasons. Unfortunately, this system has been unworkable because competition between the co-planted crops often leads to stand failure of interseeded alfalfa. Recent Wisconsin studies demonstrated that properly timed foliar applications of prohexadione-calcium on appropriate alfalfa varieties could increase plant survival of interseeded alfalfa by up to 400%. When successfully established, the average dry matter yield of interseeded alfalfa the following year was two-fold greater than conventionally spring-seeded alfalfa. Preliminary economic analyses suggest using interseeding in place of conventional spring seeding for establishment alfalfa could improve net returns of first year alfalfa by about $100 per acre. Other studies revealed that interseeded alfalfa reduced fall and spring runoff of water and phosphorus by 60% and soil erosion by 80% compared to cropland containing only silage corn residues and weeds. These improvements in crop yields and profitability and in soil and water conservation are powerful incentives for continuing work to develop reliable and workable corn-interseeded alfalfa production systems for use on farms in Wisconsin and other northern states in the USA.