INSIDERSCorn, Sorghum & OilseedsProfiling Silage Digestibility

Profiling Silage Digestibility


Digestibility of corn silage is revolving around two key areas – the digestibility of the stover (stalk, leaves and cob) and of the grain where starch is composed. Both parameters are influencing the energy content of ensiled corn. The energy content and the whole plant digestibility are increasing with advancing maturation and starch deposit.

As a breeder we are attentive to the market needs. As each country is defining silage maize quality differently, it is quite challenging to meet the requirements of a single market. Therefore, the solution-driven breeding approach is to select on digestible yield.

However, it is very important to understand that silage quality is always seen together with yield. Both traits are negatively correlated. Selection on one criterion reduces the value of the other one. If we want to improve silage digestibility, basically four requirements are necessary to achieve this goal:

– Clear-structured genetic background
– Introduction of new sources
– High number of plot trials for selection
– High capacity of NIRS analysis

A successful silage production relies on continuous breeding efforts as well on best agronomic practices which have to be performed along the whole process of silage management: harvest, storage, compaction and removal.

To support our customers, we as a seed breeder supply direct advice in personal talks on variety choice and agronomic measures. E.g. about correct harvest date or high cut in order to reduce the share of the stem which is less digestible.
In addition, innovative digital advisory tools are available for our customers. With the help of our Nutri profile, farmers can choose the right corn variety that fits the needs of their cattle feeding ration. How does it work?

Nutri profile is an approach which allows the characterization of silage maize varieties on their digestion speed, thanks to the research directly in the cow´s rumen, referring to the in sacco method. Dry matter that is coming from the leaves and stalk offers a slow digestibility and releases energy later when compared to grain, where dry matter is immediately assimilated by the animal.

Slow digestible silage is used as a single ration ad lib for cows on lactation peak. Fast digestion brings quickly energy for animals with the ration based on grasses. The success of these studies, allows us to recommend the dairy cattle farmers those varieties with the best adaption to their feeder ration.