DLF Alfalfa – timing of harvest and digestibility
−− Optimal timing of alfalfa harvest provides optimal forage quality and more profitable farming.
Dec. 4, 2017
Highly digestible forage - Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF)
When producing hay and silage for forage one might become familiar with the term neutral detergent fiber (NDF). It is one of the important key factors when producing high digestible forage for ruminants and describes the most important factor limiting the intake and utilization of forage by ruminants. Increasing the amount of NDF will evidently result in increased intake and utilization of forage, which will result in an increase output either as milk or as meat, hence a better profitability.
NDF in DLF breeding programs
Knowing NDF in forage before harvest therefore becomes very important. It would not only be an important part in harvest decisions tools but also indicate and provide basis for storing forage by quality.
Used often for prediction of NDF are standard laboratory tests. It is an accurate method but often not rapid enough to be useful as a fast decision tool. Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) done in field is also a possibility. DLF performs in field app. 400.000 NIRS scans per year and these scans will be calibrated with laboratory analysis of app. 4,000 analysis. DLF uses both systems to estimate the quality of DLF Alfalfa and much breeding evolves around these data to give the most digestible varieties.
There are area method that can predict NDF in the field for example the (PEAQ) tested in Poland. Stems are clipped from an area of 1.1-0.15 m2. The longest stem from each sample is measured (MaxHeight) and the most mature stem is given the appropriate maturity rating with 2 for vegetative, 3.5 when at least one visible flower bud, and 5.5 for at least one open flower.
NDF = 168.9+2.7(MaxHeight) + 8.1(MaxStage)
Figure 1. Relationship between predicted and observed NDF concentrations in alfalfa using PEAQ.
The model is basic and under influence of environmental conditions, such as temperature, photoperiod and moisture but it will give an indication of the NDF in alfalfa.
The model is accurate but also time consuming. By growing DLF Alfalfa you will not only be able to achieve high digestibility and protein, but we have also saved you for doing much manual work in field testing you crops for its NDF.
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