March 10, 2023 at 7:59 p.m.
Fungicide can help
Cardoso presented “Corn Silage Strategies for Improved Efficiency” Feb. 20 at the Carver County Dairy and Beef Expo in Norwood Young America.
“In Brazil, we get two crops of corn silage, so we have a second chance to get it right,” Cardoso said. “There is only one chance for us to get corn silage right for our cows in the United States, and there are many factors that can affect the quality.”
Cardoso said improved communication can also bolster forage quality; an agronomist can help introduce a farmer to corn hybrids that could boost benefits in a ration.
“The nutritionists, farmer, agronomist and crew should all communicate their goals ahead of time,” Cardoso said. “I believe corn silage can be a team approach.”
Cardoso said thinking about why and when to apply fungicide can be effective in growing a nutrient-dense, safe and digestible forage, and applying fungicide could help lower the risk of mycotoxins, potentially raise digestibility and affect yield.
“If we apply fungicide when the field is more than 10% diseases, we are going to have a 93% chance that we will get an added 3 bushels to the acre or more,” Cardoso said. “The cost to apply the fungicide could breakeven with the added bushels to the yield.”
Hybrid selection is an important aspect of corn silage production, and factors such as the milk per ton quality index can ensure the plant material will turn into pounds of milk in the tank, Cardoso said.
“One of the reactions of a plant when stressed by disease is to thicken the cell walls to protect itself,” Cardoso said. “This decreases the digestibility of the plant.”
A research study applied fungicide to corn during four stages of growth. The corn was then harvested and fed to cows to assess the digestibility of the plant. Compared to the corn silage that was not treated with fungicide, the fungicide-applied corn broke down easier in the digestive tract. This could be because the plant did not experience stress from disease, Cardoso said. The fungicide-applied corn also grew taller than the control group in the study.
Also within that same study, they calculated feed costs and production. In the control group, the profit after feed costs was $734 whereas the fungicide-applied corn was $789.
“Our goal with this experiment was to show that fungicide application can help the plant grow into a quality forage that could help cows increase feed efficiency,” Cardoso said.
The study bagged the corn silage and came back at 30, 90 and 150 days to see differences in fermentation and quality. The control group had less sugar than the fungicide-applied corn. The fungicide-applied corn also had better production of lactic acid.
“Of all the corn produced in the United States, 14% of it is produced for corn silage,” Cardoso said. “It’s a big deal for a dairy farmer to have good corn silage.”
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