Poster Number 412
Monday, 6 October 2008
George R. Brown Convention Center, Exhibit Hall E
In the Southern High Plains, dairies are expanding to take advantage of favorable climatic conditions. This has increased the regional demand for silage for dairies besides the other silage demands from the large regional concentrated beef cattle feeding industry. Currently corn (Zea mays L.) and forage sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) are the two major crops grown in the region to meet the current silage demand. Corn and sorghum have relatively large water use (835 mm for corn and 688 mm for forage sorghum, respectively) that requires irrigation in most years to achieve desirable yields and nutritive qualities. Rising energy costs and declining water levels in the underlain Ogallala Aquifer demand for alternative dryland crop to meet the increasing silage demand. Finger millet (Eleusine coracana L.) is highly resistant to pests, diseases and environmental stresses including drought and is currently grown in arid regions of the world. It uses 10-20% less water than sorghum. Forage yield under irrigated conditions are expected to be nearly double those on rain-fed land. In our study, we evaluated the adaptability of five varieties of finger millet to Southern High Plains climatic conditions. Results indicated that finger millet can be grown in the Southern High Plains. Limited nutrient analysis of finger millet silage has shown that the quality of finger millet, as feed to dairy livestock, is relatively higher than that of corn and sorghum. However, forage yield of most commonly grown corn and sorghum in the region is relatively higher than that of finger millet. Therefore, finger millet grown on dryland may provide a unique opportunity to improve dairy-fed silage quality by mixing it with corn or sorghum silage while meeting the growing regional demand for silage.