In the last 20 years, the yield of mid-early forage maize increased by 2 dt dry matter/ha/ year. Varieties with major agronomical problems such as lodging were eliminated. The improvement of quality, and more specifically the content of digestible organic matter (DOM), is more difficult to evaluate, as it is highly influenced by environmental condition. Both yield and quality vary among locations and years. Dry matter content at harvest only influences the DOM up to 30 %, when seed filling is not complete and therefore grain content too low. This is one more reason not to harvest variety trial too soon, so that the late varieties can reach the minimum DM content (30 %). Data from several locations were compared. For example, differences appeared between Changins (Nyon, VD) and Reckenholz (Zurich, ZH): in Changins, summers are warmer and dryer. Satisfying dry matter content for harvest was usually reached 2 to 4 weeks earlier than in Reckenholz. Yields were lower but with similar content of DOM. DOM was less correlated to grain content in Reckenholz (R2=0.01, ns) than in Changins (R2=0.21***), where plants are smaller and ear development seems to be able to compensate the lower digestibility of the rest of the plant. New varieties showed significant improvement compared to older ones, especially for yield and quality parameters such as DOM. Variety trials over 20 years allowed these improvement to be available for the farmers.
Spring J.-L-, Zufferey V., Verdenal T., Reynard J.-S., Lorenzini F., Bourdin G., Blouin A., Carlen C., Jermini M., Morisoli R., Ferretti M.
Five Merlot clones bred in Switzerland are currently being distributed by the certification sector. A multiyear trial conducted by Agroscope in Gudo (Canton of Ticino) has made it possible to compare them with French and Italian reference clones and to highlight their very good performances.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are important for healthy soils and crops. A pan-European study shows that plant-protection products adversely affect these fungi, reducing their ability to supply plants with phosphorus via their roots.
Birdsfoot trefoil and sainfoin are used in mixtures for perennial hay meadows and for tannin-containing fodder. Agroscope is adding two new cultivars of birdsfoot trefoil to the ‘List of Recommended Varieties of Forage Plants’, whilst there is no change in the case of sainfoin.