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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #357503

Title: Complementary forage systems for the upper Midwest

item NIEMAN, CHRISTINE - Orise Fellow
item POPP, MICHAEL - University Of Arkansas
item SCHAEFER, DANIEL - University Of Wisconsin
item ALBRECHT, KENNETH - University Of Wisconsin
item Owens, Phillip

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/2/2018
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Warm season annuals such as corn (Zea mays L.) and brown mid rib (BMR) sudangrass [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench.] increase the carrying capacity of grazing farms by producing great amounts of forage during mid-summer, when cool season pasture growth rates decline. When these warm season annuals are interseeded into a perennial forage, such as Kura clover, they reduce soil erosion and provide more digestible forage with greater protein. However, warm season species in the Upper Midwest require careful evaluation, as they need to provide feed of comparable quality to cool season perennial species, while also remaining economical. The study was conducted from 2014 to 2016 at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station in Arlington, WI. Pre-grazing biomass did not differ between species. Corn averaged 3033 ± 174 lb ac-1 (mean, SEM), while sudangrass averaged 2926 ± 143 lb ac-1, but treatments differed by year (P < 0.05). Harvested forage yield was greater (P< 0.05) in sudangrass-Kura clover, averaging 3071 ± 199 lb ac-1, while corn-Kura clover averaged 2164 ± 172 lb ac-1. Average daily gain was not different (P > 0.05) between corn-Kura clover (1.3 ± 0.24 lb d-1) and sudangrass-Kura clover (1.7 ± 0.12 lb d-1). Average daily gain was affected by year and year by species (P < 0.05). Corn-Kura clover had a lower (P = 0.05) gain per acre, 174 ± 41 lbs per acre, than sudangrass-Kura clover, 284 ± 41 lbs per acre, and there was also a year effect (P < 0.05) and a tendency for a year by species effect (P = .09). Though no differences in ADG were detected, greater gain per acre was achieved due to more grazing days for sudangrass-Kura clover. Economic comparison on a per acre basis was favorable for the sudangrass-Kura clover system, because of increased gain per acre compared to corn-Kura clover. However, when compared to adjacently grazed perennial cool season pastures (binary mixtures of alfalfa and grasses, in which gain per acre averaged 810 lbs per acre), costs were much greater for both annual systems without increased gain per acre. However, investigators note that several improvements could be made to forage management in the warm season component and therefore multiple scenarios were evaluated in a model. Modeling of the complementary system was aided by adapting decision support software, FORCAP: forage and cattle planner (Dr. Mike Popp, University of Arkansas) for northern climates.