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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #385150

Research Project: Improving Nutrient Use Efficiency and Mitigating Nutrient and Pathogen Losses from Dairy Production Systems

Location: Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research

Title: Research Update: Side-by-side evaluation of preservation alternatives for alfalfa hays

item Coblentz, Wayne
item AKINS, MATTHEW - University Of Wisconsin
item KIEKE, BURNEY - Marshfield Clinic Research

Submitted to: Scientific and Technical Review
Publication Type: Research Technical Update
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/10/2021
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Objectives for this study were to assess the storage characteristics of relatively dry mixed-species forage preserved with a propionic-acid-based preservative, or by wrapping (individually) with 7 layers of plastic film as baled silage. Thirty-three bales were produced for the experiment at 25.8 ± 2.20% moisture, and a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of preservative (yes or no) and wrapping (yes or no) treatments were evaluated. For this study, the application of plastic film onto relatively dry alfalfa-grass forages using field procedures identical to those used commonly for wetter baled silages proved extremely effective in reducing spontaneous heating during storage, as well as minimizing nutrient losses during this time interval. This management approach shows promise as an alternative to various preservatives for conserving forages in humid environments, or when unstable weather prohibits desiccation of forages to acceptable moisture targets for safe storage as dry hay. Potentially, this is particularly relevant in circumstances where wilting forages approach suitability for safe storage as dry hay, but weather conditions will not allow the remaining drying necessary for storage in this manner. The production of fermentation acids and associated pH depression were greatly restricted in these dry silages, suggesting preservation was accomplished primarily by exclusion of oxygen, and that maintaining anaerobic conditions within the bale is critical for long-term storage. Furthermore, application of plastic wrap under these conditions should effectively eliminate the effects of weathering that are observed commonly with outdoor storage of round-baled hay.