The nutritional value of forage is often limited by its high fibre content. With Norway's challenging climatic, harvesting and topographical conditions, traditional methods to improve the nutritional quality of forage are limited. Foods of Norway therefore applies more robust methods to improve the digestibility of grass. This could contribute significantly to better resource utilization, improved feed efficiency and lower feed costs, which are major goals for Foods of Norway's research.
Together with industry partner TINE and local Norwegian farmers, grass silage from 100 farms all over Norway has been collected. This effort forms the basis for an ongoing large-scale experiment where digestibility of ruminants is measured and where more robust methods based on mechanical, chemical and novel enzymatic pretreatments are applied.
NMBU researcher Liv Torunn Mydland is in charge of the experiment.
"This is a big trial. As far as I am aware, this much silage of different qualities has never been studied in such detail before as TINE and our research group are doing now", Mydland says.
Robust despite rain
This summer, heavy rain has been a challenge in many parts of Norway.
“Thanks to modern technology we believe it will be possible to improve silage quality, also for grass of inferior quality due to rain, or grass that is harvested so late that it contains a lot of fibre”, Mydland says.
All the silage samples from the 100 farms will be stored in a 'grass silage bank' for future research and optimization of new methodology.
TINE will test the use of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR) to measure the grass quality.
“We will test the instrument on the 100 silage samples and refine it to suit the Norwegian environment and needs. This technology will provide the farmer with a unique, fast and cost-efficient way to adjust feed rations and thereby better exploit the nutritional value of the silage. This in turn will lead to lower costs for the farmer and reduced greenhouse gas emissions”, says special advisor in TINE, Ingunn Schei.