Effects of Cutting Time, Ensiling Duration and Microbial Additives on Chemical Composition of Alfalfa Silage

Document Type : Scientific - Research Articles



This experiment was conducted to assess the effects of daytime cutting management (p.m. vs. a.m. cut), ensiling duration and adding microbial inoculants on chemical composition of alfalfa silage. For this, Second growth Alfalfa harvested at the early bud stage of development after a sunny day at sundown (about 1900 h; PM alfalfa), whereas the second half was cut next day at sunup (about 0800 h; AM alfalfa). After cutting, alfalfa Forage was chopped by using a chopper to a length of 8 to10 cm, and then ensiled without or with microbial additive as factorial experiment (2×2) with repeated measurement design. Silages were provided in laboratory silos (6 repeats in every treatment) lined with two layers of plastic, after air exclusion. Silos were opened at 3, 10 and 30 day for determination of pH and other chemical analysis. The numerically lower pH of PM vs. AM silages indicates that the former forage was more extensively fermented possibly because of its increased total non structural carbohydrate (TNC) concentration. Shifting alfalfa harvesting from sun up to sundown significantly decreased NDF% and ADF%, because of the dilution effect associated with increased concentrations of TNC in the former forage. The NPN content and N-NH3 concentration of the silages treated in the afternoon was lower compared with AM group. CP content decreased, but NDF, ADF, NPN and N-NH3 concentration increased during ensiling time. Silage pH decreased by using of microbial additive and ensiling time. Dry matter and nitrogen losses were lower in silages treated by microbial inoculants, and, increased with increasing fermentation time. It can be concluded that microbial additives and time of cutting can be used as proper way to improve fermentation situation and silage quality.