2016 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 of annual cereal crops. 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

  • 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
  • North Peace Applied Research Association, Manning AB, (780) 836-5230
  • Peace Country Beef and Forage, Fairview, AB, (780) 836-3354
  • Smoky Applied Research and Demonstration Association, Falher, AB, (780) 837-2900
  • West-Central Forage Association, Evansburg, AB, (780) 727-4447

Major Sponsors

  • Government of Alberta (Agriculture and Forestry): Alex Fedko, RVT Coordinator; 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

Applied research and forage associations performed regional silage trials at eight locations throughout the province in 2016. Data from additional sites grown during the past five years has been included in the variety summaries below. The trials are intended to determine yield and nutritional values of various cereal crops and cereal/pea combinations. The tables below show a summary of data from 2012 through 2016 as compared to the control variety (in bold). Yield of the test varieties are expressed as wet tons/acre (ie. 65% moisture, typical of silage production). Data sets which did not meet minimum quality standards and variance levels were excluded.

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 fertility as determined from soil samples. 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, while the monoculture cereal comparison plots were fertilized with 50 percent of the recommended fertilizer rates. Peas were seeded at 75 percent of their recommended seeding rate and cereals at 50 percent when in mixtures.

Growing conditions at the trial sites ranged from dryer than normal to excessive moisture in 2016.

Maturity, plant height and lodging were not measured in the trials as it is reported in the Cereal RVT program tables.

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 or target yields are anticipated to be of low, medium or high productivity. Varieties that are statistically higher (+) or lower (–) yielding than the standard check are indicated. No symbol after the yield figure indicates that there is no statistical difference. 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 somewhat 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 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 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).