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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 #409739

Research Project: Improving Forage Genetics and Management in Integrated Dairy Systems for Enhanced Productivity, Efficiency and Resilience, and Decreased Environmental Impact

Location: Dairy Forage Research

Title: Intercropping alfalfa with corn silage

item Grabber, John
item Osterholz, William - Will
item Bjorneberg, David - Dave
item Riday, Heathcliffe
item DIAS, JOSE LUIZ - University Of Arizona
item PATEL, SWETABH - Kansas State University
item SMIT, DAMON - University Of Wisconsin
item RUARK, MATTHEW - University Of Wisconsin
item CASSIDA, KIMBERLY - Michigan State University
item BURNS, ERIN - Michigan State University
item LAUER, JOSEPH - University Of Wisconsin
item RENZ, MARK - University Of Wisconsin

Submitted to: Proceedings of the World Alfalfa Congress
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/16/2022
Publication Date: 11/16/2022
Citation: Grabber, J.H., Osterholz, W.R., Bjorneberg, D.L., Riday, H., Dias, J., Patel, S., Smit, D.L., Ruark, M.D., Cassida, K.A., Burns, E.E., Lauer, J.G., Renz, M.J. 2022. Intercropping alfalfa with corn silage. Proceedings of the World Alfalfa Congress. World Alfalfa Congress, November 16, 2022.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Alfalfa is often grown in crop rotations with corn silage to provide forage for dairy cattle and other livestock in northern regions of the United States, but the performance of this system is hampered by low establishment year yields of spring-seeded alfalfa and excessive loss of soil and nutrients during corn production. Over the last decade, scientists in Wisconsin and other states have developed improved methods for interseeding and establishing alfalfa in a corn silage companion crop. When proper management practices are used, establishment of alfalfa by interseeding into corn has the potential to double first year yields of alfalfa, increase overall forage production and profitability, and decrease soil and nutrient loss from cropland compared to conventional alfalfa-corn silage rotations. Key management steps for intercropping alfalfa with corn include choosing suitable field sites, properly amending soil, selecting suitable alfalfa varieties and corn hybrids, applying herbicides and other agrichemical treatments, and using appropriate planting and harvest management practices. Further research is still needed, however, to improve alfalfa establishment during wet growing conditions and to enhance nutrient uptake and yield of the corn silage companion crop.