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Demonstration of Corn Intercropping Systems to Improve Corn Forage Quality

Trial Site: Fairview Research Farm

Research Coordinator: Dr. Akim Omokanye

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2016 Annual Report

Over 100 corn forage samples have been analyzed for quality by PCBFA in the last few years, and the majority of the samples came from producers’ fields. In summary, the forage quality results have shown that corn would normally have adequate protein and energy values needed by gestating cows. Essential minerals (except for Na) are always being met as well by corn forage. Occasionally, the protein content may fall short of what is needed by cows at the late-pregnancy stage and for producers wanting to use corn silage for back-grounding calves, the 12-13% protein required by these calves can hardly be met by a sole corn crop. To address this issue, we decided to test a few different crop types with corn as companion crops in order to determine biomass yield and silage quality of corn mixed with other crop types. Studies elsewhere have shown that intercropping of corn with legumes is an alternative to corn mono-cropping and has a number of ad-vantages, for example, lower levels of inputs, lower cost of production and better silage quality than mono-crop systems.


The demonstration site was at the Fairview Research Farm (NW5-82-3W6) on RR #35, MD of Fairview. Soil test at 0-6” soil depth prior to seeding showed an organic matter content of 7.3%, a pH of 5.4 (acidic) and an electrical conductivity of 0.58 dS/m.

The field was cultivated before seeding corn.

Rainfall from seeding-killing frost was 13.8”. The date of killing frost was September 4 and the total corn heat units (seeding-Killing frost) recorded was 1711.

Demonstration strip design was used in small plots measuring 11.04 m2 (118.8 ft2).