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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #370898

Research Project: Sustainable Small Farm and Organic Grass and Forage Production Systems for Livestock and Agroforestry

Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

Title: Sorghum-sudangrass sown with cowpea and baled at two moisture levels for greater baleage nutritive value

item NIEMAN, CHRISTINE - University Of Arkansas
item PHILIPP, DIRK - University Of Arkansas
item COFFEY, KEN - University Of Arkansas
item Franco, Jose

Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2020
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Sorghum-sudangrass is high-yielding, but can be low in crude protein and digestibility. Intercropping with an annual legume, such as cowpea, may alleviate nutritive value issues by providing highly digestible, high protein forage, while also potentially increasing dry matter yields. Furthermore, to better preserve nutritive value compared to hay and to reduce delays in drying time, baleage is an option. This study investigated the productivity and quality of sorghum-sudangrass grown in monoculture (SS) and in binary intercrop with cowpea (SS-C) when harvested and stored as baleage at two different moistures (high and low). All 1.7-acre plots were cut when sorghum-sudangrass reached 48 in. in height in the afternoon of August 8, 2018 and were baled between 11:30 am and 2:00 pm on August 9, 2018. The two moisture treatments were 61.2 and 48.0% for the high and low moisture treatments, respectively. Yields did not differ between SS and SS-C and averaged 2.2 tons/acre. Legume contribution was low in mixtures, ranging from 0 to 14% and averaging 2.6% of total dry matter. Cowpea plants were unable to compete with the rapid growing sorghum-sudangrass, thus did not influence nutritive value. However, moisture level affected most fermentation variables including pH, total acids %, ammonia-N (% of total N), lactic acid %, and acetic acid %, but did not affect propionic acid %, butyric acid %, and isobutyric acid %. In summary, intercropping with cowpea did not provide a nutritive value advantage due to competition from sorghum-sudangrass; however, moisture had large effects on fermentation, with higher moisture resulting in lower pH and greater volatile fatty acid production.