- Agronomic: general silage crops, hay
- Animal Production: feed/forage
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
- Production Systems: general crop production
- Soil Management: soil quality/health
A movement towards larger dairy farms in the Northeast has led to widespread adoption of monoculture silage corn production. Corn silage is not only excellent forage for dairy cattle but it also produces large amounts of dry matter per acre. However, any crop grown in monoculture can have negative impacts on the environment such as reduced soil quality and increased erosion. In addition, crops grown in monoculture have a higher cost of production for the farmer. Since there are so few annual forage crops that can be grown in the Northeast with the superior forage qualities of silage corn the introduction of alternative high yield and quality annual forage crops would lead to more extended rotations. A plausible alternative forage crop for the Northeast is fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.). Fenugreek is an annual legume that is similar in quality to alfalfa. It is only cut once during the growing season and can be harvested for hay or silage. Fenugreek does not loose quality as it matures and therefore has a longer harvest window than corn silage or alfalfa. Environmentally, fenugreek could help in preserving the integrity of agricultural land by reducing soil erosion, improving soil quality, breaking pest cycles, and fixing its own nitrogen. The objective of this study is to evaluate the performance of fenugreek in the Northeast by measuring yield and quality of five fenugreek varieties harvested on two dates. The experimental design of the variety trial will be a randomized complete block design in a split plot arrangement with four replicates. Main plots will be five fenugreek varieties and the split plots will be two harvest dates, 12 and 16 weeks after planting. Emergence, growth, development, yield and quality (protein, in vitro digestibility, fiber content, and minerals) will be measured.
Project objectives from proposal:
Our objective is to develop an economically, agronomic and environmentally sound management system for forage fenugreek as a feasible rotation with corn silage in the Northeast. However, before doing extensive agronomic tests on this crop, we need to know if fenugreek will perform as a high quality forage crop in the Northeast. This particular study will evaluate the yield and quality of available forage fenugreek varieties.