Too much flood irrigation can decrease the nutritional value of corn silage hybrids, say Italian and Cornell University researchers. They compared the NDF digestibility of silage made from silage hybrids watered with flood and sprinkler irrigation. Excess water from flood irrigation resulted in lower crude protein, greater acid detergent lignin and reduced in vitro NDFd and rate of NDF digestion. Starch and NDF content were no different by irrigation method.

Three hybrids with different digestibilities were grown in New York and Italy under flood and sprinkler irrigation set at low and high applications levels. Urea was applied. The forages were harvested at 30-32% dry matter, ensiled in mini silos and then analyzed for chemical composition and in vitro NDFD.

The study supports the need for irrigation strategies that can optimize forage quality, the researchers say.

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