2017 Regional Silage Variety Trials

An important component of the annual feed supply for Alberta’s cattle producers comes in the form of silage, green feed and swath grazing. It could be argued that there is more grain forage than cereal grain fed to take many market animals from conception to plate. Selection of annual crop varieties which produce the highest forage yield and/or nutritional quality becomes increasingly important.

Participating Organizations (2017)

• Battle River Research Group, Forestburg, AB, (780) 582-7308

• Chinook Applied Research Association, Oyen, AB, (403) 664-3777

• Gateway Research Organization, Westlock, AB, (780) 349-4546

• Lakeland Agricultural Research Association, Bonnyville, AB, (780) 826-7260

• Mackenzie Applied Research Association, Fort Vermilion, AB, (780) 927-3776

• Peace Country Beef and Forage, Fairview, AB, (780) 836-3354

• Smoky Applied Research and Demonstration Association, Falher, AB, (780) 837-2900

Major Sponsors

• Doug McCaulay, AOF Coordinator

• A & L Canada Laboratories Inc.

• Davidson Seeds, Degenhardt Farms, Dyck Seed Farm, Kevin Elmy, Fabian Seeds, Lindholm Seed Farm, Mastin Seeds, Solick Seeds, H. Warkentin

Trial Information

Silage yield and nutritional information was collected by seven applied research associations in 2017 at sites from Oyen in the south to Fort Vermilion in the north. Data from additional sites grown during the past six years has been included in the variety summaries below. Varieties of barley, oats, triticale and peas commonly used for silage, green feed and swath grazing were included in the trial. The cereal trials (barley, oats and triticale) were seeded at recommended seeding density rates with recommended fertility. The pulse mixture trial looked at increasing the nutritional value of silage, with a potential side benefit of decreasing future nitrogen costs. The pulse mix plots were seeded with 50 pounds of 11-52-0-0.  Peas were seeded at 75 per cent of their recommended seeding rate and cereals at 50 per cent when in mixtures. Growing conditions at the trial sites in 2017 ranged from below average to excessive moisture.

The tables below show a summary of data from 2012 through 2017 as compared to the control variety (in bold). Yield of the test varieties are expressed as wet tons/acre (i.e. 65% moisture, typical of silage production). Data sets which did not meet minimum quality standards and variance levels were excluded.

Test Yield Categories

The defined range for each Test Yield Category is provided in tons per acre. Variety yields are reported as average yields in Low, Medium and High Test Yield Categories. This allows for comparison with the check when growing conditions, management regimes and/or target yields are anticipated to be of low, medium or high productivity. Caution is advised when interpreting the data with respect to new varieties that have not been fully tested. It should also be noted that the indicated yield levels are those from small plot trials, which can be 15 to 20 per cent higher than yields expected under commercial production. As yield is not the only factor that affects net return, other important agronomic and disease resistance characteristics should also be considered. The genetic yield potential of a variety can be influenced by various management and environmental factors.

Nutritional Analysis

Nutrition was assessed using NIRS for macronutrient assessments and wet chemistry for the micronutrients. Full nutritional analysis was done on each sample, however, only six nutritional categories are reported: crude protein (CP), total digestible nutrients (TDN) which is an estimation of energy, calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and magnesium (Mg).