Silage

2018 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. The selection of annual crop varieties that produce high forage yield and/or nutritional quality can be a significant factor influencing profitability. 

Participating Organizations 

  • Battle River Research Group, Forestburg, Alta. (780) 582-7308
  • Chinook Applied Research Association, Oyen, Alta. (403) 664-3777
  • Gateway Research Organization, Westlock, Alta. (780) 349-4546
  • Lakeland Agricultural Research Association, Bonnyville, Alta. (780) 826-7260
  • Mackenzie Applied Research Association, Fort Vermilion, Alta. (780) 927-3776 
  • North Peace Applied Research Association, Manning, Alta. (780) 836-3354
  • Peace Country Beef and Forage, Fairview, Alta. (780) 836-3354
  • Smoky Applied Research and Demonstration Association, Falher, Alta. (780) 837-2900
  • West Central Forage Association, Entwistle, Alta. (780) 727-4447

Major Sponsors

  • Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, AOF Program and CDC North
  • 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 has been collected by several applied research associations at sites from Oyen in the south to Fort Vermilion in the north of Alberta. Varieties of barley, oats and triticale commonly used for silage, green feed and swath grazing were included in the trial. Pea/cereal mixes and spring/fall cereal mixes have also been evaluated. Growing conditions at the trial sites in 2018 ranged from below average to excessive moisture.

The cereal trials, (barley, oats & triticale), were planted 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. The spring/fall cereal mixes were included in 2018 to evaluate options for fall grazing, as the winter cereal growth continues after silage harvest. It also remains vegetative, resulting in forage with high protein content late in the year. Target seeding rate of the spring component of the mix was 75 per cent of the recommended rate while the winter cereal was seeded at 50%. These mixes were harvested at soft dough of the spring cereal.

Data submitted in 2018 has been summarized by crop in the following tables Information collected since 2012 has been included in a separate summary below each crop table. The information is presented as compared to the control variety (in bold). Yield of the test varieties are expressed as wet tons/acre (ie. 65% moisture which is 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 macro-nutrient assessments and wet chemistry for the micro-nutrients. Full nutritional analysis was done on two sub-samples from each variety or mix from each location. Only six key 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).