Oak Park is home to the National Centre for Arable Crops Research. Situated on 225 hectare research farm, the main objective of the work programme at Oak Park is to support the arable crops sector of Irish agriculture. The task ahead is to adapt new challenges in developing sustainable and environmentally sensitive agricultural systems which will provide farmers with adequate incomes and consumers with quality food at reasonable prices.

Recent Submissions

  • Quantitative trait loci associated with different polar metabolites in perennial ryegrass - providing scope for breeding towards increasing certain polar metabolites

    Foito, Alexandre; Hackett, Christine A; Stewart, Derek; Velmurugan, Janaki; Milbourne, Dan; Byrne, Stephen L; Barth, Susanne (Biomed Central, 2017-10-10)
    Background Recent advances in the mapping of biochemical traits have been reported in Lolium perenne. Although the mapped traits, including individual sugars and fatty acids, contribute greatly towards ruminant productivity, organic acids and amino acids have been largely understudied despite their influence on the ruminal microbiome. Results In this study, we used a targeted gas-chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) approach to profile the levels of 25 polar metabolites from different classes (sugars, amino acids, phenolic acids, organic acids and other nitrogen-containing compounds) present in a L. perenne F2 population consisting of 325 individuals. A quantitative trait (QTL) mapping approach was applied and successfully identified QTLs regulating seven of those polar metabolites (L-serine, L-leucine, glucose, fructose, myo-inositol, citric acid and 2, 3-hydroxypropanoic acid).Two QTL mapping approaches were carried out using SNP markers on about half of the population only and an imputation approach using SNP and DArT markers on the entire population. The imputation approach confirmed the four QTLs found in the SNP-only analysis and identified a further seven QTLs. Conclusions These results highlight the potential of utilising molecular assisted breeding in perennial ryegrass to modulate a range of biochemical quality traits with downstream effects in livestock productivity and ruminal digestion.
  • A temporal assessment of nematode community structure and diversity in the rhizosphere of cisgenic Phytophthora infestans-resistant potatoes

    Ortiz, Vilma; Phelan, Sinead; Mullins, Ewen (Biomed Central, 2016-12-01)
    Background Nematodes play a key role in soil processes with alterations in the nematode community structure having the potential to considerably influence ecosystem functioning. As a result fluctuations in nematode diversity and/or community structure can be gauged as a ‘barometer’ of a soil’s functional biodiversity. However, a deficit exists in regards to baseline knowledge and on the impact of specific GM crops on soil nematode populations and in particular in regard to the impact of GM potatoes on the diversity of nematode populations in the rhizosphere. The goal of this project was to begin to address this knowledge gap in regards to a GM potato line, cisgenically engineered for resistance to Phytophthora infestans (responsible organism of the Irish potato famine causing late blight disease). For this, a 3 year (2013, 2014, 2015) field experimental study was completed, containing two conventional genotypes (cvs. Desiree and Sarpo Mira) and a cisgenic genotype (cv. Desiree + Rpi-vnt1). Each potato genotype was treated with different disease management strategies (weekly chemical applications and corresponding no spray control). Hence affording the opportunity to investigate the temporal impact of potato genotype, disease management strategy (and their interaction) on the potato rhizosphere nematode community. Results Nematode structure and diversity were measured through established indices, accounts and taxonomy with factors recording a significant effect limited to the climatic conditions across the three seasons of the study and chemical applications associated with the selected disease management strategy. Based on the metrics studied, the cultivation of the cisgenic potato genotype exerted no significant effect (P > 0.05) on nematode community diversity or structure. The disease management treatments led to a reduction of specific trophic groups (e.g. Predacious c–p = 4), which of interest appeared to be counteracted by a potato genotype with vigorous growth phenotype e.g. cv. Sarpo Mira. The fluctuating climates led to disparate conditions, with enrichment conditions (bacterial feeding c–p = 1) dominating during the wet seasons of 2014 and 2015 versus the dry season of 2013 which induced an environmental stress (functional guild c–p = 2) on nematode communities. Conclusions Overall the functional guild indices in comparison to other indices or absolutes values, delivered the most accurate quantitative measurement with which to determine the occurrence of a specific disturbance relative to the cultivation of the studied cisgenic P. infestans-resistant potatoes.
  • Markers associated with heading and aftermath heading in perennial ryegrass full-sib families

    Arojju, Sai K; Barth, Susanne; Milbourne, Dan; Conaghan, Patrick; Velmurugan, Janaki; Hodkinson, Trevor R; Byrne, Stephen L (Biomed Central, 2016-07-16)
    Background Heading and aftermath heading are important traits in perennial ryegrass because they impact forage quality. So far, genome-wide association analyses in this major forage species have only identified a small number of genetic variants associated with heading date that overall explained little of the variation. Some possible reasons include rare alleles with large phenotypic affects, allelic heterogeneity, or insufficient marker density. We established a genome-wide association panel with multiple genotypes from multiple full-sib families. This ensured alleles were present at the frequency needed to have sufficient statistical power to identify associations. We genotyped the panel via partial genome sequencing and performed genome-wide association analyses with multi-year phenotype data collected for heading date, and aftermath heading. Results Genome wide association using a mixed linear model failed to identify any variants significantly associated with heading date or aftermath heading. Our failure to identify associations for these traits is likely due to the extremely low linkage disequilibrium we observed in this population. However, using single marker analysis within each full-sib family we could identify markers and genomic regions associated with heading and aftermath heading. Using the ryegrass genome we identified putative orthologs of key heading genes, some of which were located in regions of marker-trait associations. Conclusion Given the very low levels of LD, genome wide association studies in perennial ryegrass populations are going to require very high SNP densities. Single marker analysis within full-sibs enabled us to identify significant marker-trait associations. One of these markers anchored proximal to a putative ortholog of TFL1, homologues of which have been shown to play a key role in continuous heading of some members of the rose family, Rosaceae.
  • Variation in sequences containing microsatellite motifs in the perennial biomass and forage grass, Phalaris arundinacea (Poaceae)

    Barth, Susanne; Jankowska, Marta J; Hodkinson, Trevor R; Vellani, Tia; Klaas, Manfred (Biomed Central, 2016-03-22)
    Forty three microsatellite markers were developed for further genetic characterisation of a forage and biomass grass crop, for which genomic resources are currently scarce. The microsatellite markers were developed from a normalized EST-SSR library. All of the 43 markers gave a clear banding pattern on 3 % Metaphor agarose gels. Eight selected SSR markers were tested in detail for polymorphism across eleven DNA samples of large geographic distribution across Europe. The new set of 43 SSR markers will help future research to characterise the genetic structure and diversity of Phalaris arundinacea, with a potential to further understand its invasive character in North American wetlands, as well as aid in breeding work for desired biomass and forage traits. P. arundinacea is particularly valued in the northern latitude as a crop with high biomass potential, even more so on marginal lands.
  • A disease resistance locus on potato and tomato chromosome 4 exhibits a conserved multipartite structure displaying different rates of evolution in different lineages

    Destefanis, Marialaura; Nagy, Istvan; Rigney, Brian; Bryan, Glenn J; McLean, Karen; Hein, Ingo; Griffin, Denis; Milbourne, Dan (Biomed Central, 2015-10-24)
    Background In plant genomes, NB-LRR based resistance (R) genes tend to occur in clusters of variable size in a relatively small number of genomic regions. R-gene sequences mostly differentiate by accumulating point mutations and gene conversion events. Potato and tomato chromosome 4 harbours a syntenic R-gene locus (known as the R2 locus in potato) that has mainly been examined in central American/Mexican wild potato species on the basis of its contribution to resistance to late blight, caused by the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans. Evidence to date indicates the occurrence of a fast evolutionary mode characterized by gene conversion events at the locus in these genotypes. Results A physical map of the R2 locus was developed for three Solanum tuberosum genotypes and used to identify the tomato syntenic sequence. Functional annotation of the locus revealed the presence of numerous resistance gene homologs (RGHs) belonging to the R2 gene family (R2GHs) organized into a total of 4 discrete physical clusters, three of which were conserved across S. tuberosum and tomato. Phylogenetic analysis showed clear orthology/paralogy relationships between S. tuberosum R2GHs but not in R2GHs cloned from Solanum wild species. This study confirmed that, in contrast to the wild species R2GHs, which have evolved through extensive sequence exchanges between paralogs, gene conversion was not a major force for differentiation in S. tuberosum R2GHs, and orthology/paralogy relationships have been maintained via a slow accumulation of point mutations in these genotypes. Conclusions S. tuberosum and Solanum lycopersicum R2GHs evolved mostly through duplication and deletion events, followed by gradual accumulation of mutations. Conversely, widespread gene conversion is the major evolutionary force that has shaped the locus in Mexican wild potato species. We conclude that different selective forces shaped the evolution of the R2 locus in these lineages and that co-evolution with a pathogen steered selection on different evolutionary paths.
  • Technologies for restricting mould growth on baled silage

    O’Kiely, Padraig; Forristal, Dermot; O’Brien, Martin; McEniry, Joseph; Laffin, Christopher; Fuller, Hubert T.; Egan, Damian; Doohan, Fiona M.; Doyle, Evelyn M.; Clipson, Nicholas J.W.; McNally, Gerard M.; Small, Christopher M.; Nielsen, Kristian F.; Frisvad, Jens C. (Teagasc, 2007-12-01)
    Silage is made on approximately 86% of Irish farms, and 85% of these make some baled silage. Baled silage is particularly important as the primary silage making, storage and feeding system on many beef and smaller sized farms, but is also employed as a secondary system (often associated with facilitating grazing management during mid-summer) on many dairy and larger sized farms (O’Kiely et al., 2002). Previous surveys on farms indicated that the extent of visible fungal growth on baled silage was sometimes quite large, and could be a cause for concern. Whereas some improvements could come from applying existing knowledge and technologies, the circumstances surrounding the making and storage of baled silage suggested that environmental conditions within the bale differed from those in conventional silos, and that further knowledge was required in order to arrive at a secure set of recommendations for baled silage systems. This report deals with the final in a series (O’Kiely et al., 1999; O’Kiely et al., 2002) of three consecutive research projects investigating numerous aspect of the science and technology of baled silage. The success of each depended on extensive, integrated collaboration between the Teagasc research centres at Grange and Oak Park, and with University College Dublin. As the series progressed the multidisciplinary team needed to underpin the programme expanded, and this greatly improved the amount and detail of the research undertaken. The major objective of the project recorded in this report was to develop technologies to improve the “hygienic value” of baled silage.
  • An Investigation of Seed Treatments for the Control of Crow Damage to Newly-Sown Wheat

    Kennedy, T.F.; Connery, J. (Teagasc, 2007-02-28)
    Seed treatments for the control of crow damage to newly-sown winter and spring wheat were evaluated in field trials from 2004 to 2007. Treatments included six fungicides, three insecticides, a product marketed as a bird repellent and three possible repellents. Various rates of selected compounds were investigated. Winter wheat was sown in December and spring wheat in late-January to mid-February. Sowing depth was 2 to 4 cm while some selected treatments were also sown at 5 to 9 cm deep. Crow damage was assessed by recording plant density and grain yield. Severe damage by crows was recorded. The plant population for untreated spring wheat seed in 2004, 2005 and 2006 was reduced by 59%, 72% and 89%, respectively. The corresponding reductions caused by crows to winter wheat sown in December 2004, 2005 and 2006 was 97%, 89% and 96%. Best control of crow damage was provided by the fungicide Thiram. Increasing the rate of Thiram applied to seed improved the control of crow damage by increasing plant density in the range 42 to 70% and 36 to 57%, respectively, for spring and winter wheat when compared with untreated seed. Anchor, which contains the fungicides Thiram and Carboxin, also gave reasonably good control. The commonly used fungicide product panoctine gave poor control of crow damage. Other treatments investigated were ineffective in controlling damage. Increasing the sowing depth to more than 4.6 cm significantly reduced damage to both treated and untreated seed when compared with similar treatments sown less than this depth.
  • Teagasc Research Report 2008, Crops Research Centre, Oak Park

    Crops Research Centre, Teagasc (Teagasc, 2008-12-01)
    This report details research projects at the Teagasc Crops Research Centre in 2008.
  • Potato Breeding at Oak Park 2000-2006

    Dowley, L.J.; Griffin, D. (Teagasc, 2009-07-01)
    The potato breeding programme at Oak Park was started in the 1960's and has consisted of a number of distinct phases. In the first phase the focus was on the evaluation of the main domestic and foreign varieties for suitability for the Irish market. This was followed by a breeding programme for the domestic market, with particular emphasis on the production of a blight resistant replacement for Kerr’s Pink. The emphasis then switched to breeding for the export market, with the focus on the UK and Mediterranean markets. Since then the breeding programme has been focused on both the domestic, processing and export markets. The process of breeding, testing and multiplying a new potato variety from the making of the initial cross until the new variety can be commercially grown takes about 15 years (see Appendix 1). This report covers the period 2001-2006 (RMIS NO 4720).
  • Exploration of flowering control in Lolium perenne L.

    Byrne, Stephen; Mur, Luis AJ; Donnisson, Iain; Guiney, Emma (Teagasc, 2009-08-01)
    Flowering or heading in Lolium perenne (perennial ryegrass) is induced by a period of vernalization, followed by long days at higher temperatures. When heading occurs there is a reduction in the feed quality of the forage and therefore extending the period of vegetative growth or eliminating heading during the growing season will improve the potential of perennial ryegrass in agriculture. Conversely, a better control of flowering time and increased heading will lead to higher seed yield for commercial producers. The aim of this project was to investigate the underlying genetic control of flowering time in perennial ryegrass. An F1 population was created by crosspollinating two lines with different heading dates and a genetic linkage map was constructed using Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) markers. The population and genetic linkage map was then used to identify Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) associated with heading date, spike length and spikelets per spike. A number of QTL were identified for all traits, some of which had not previously been identified in perennial ryegrass. A Suppression Subtractive Hybridization (SSH) study was also employed to identify genes differentially expressed between an extremely late flowering line and earlier flowering sibling line. Expression analysis of a number of identified genes through floral induction was performed using real time RT-PCR. This revealed a number of transcripts with expression profiles indicative of a role to play in floral induction.
  • Potential for gene-flow from cultivated Irish grasses and cereals

    Mullins, Ewen; Ryan, Eimear; Meade, Conor (Teagasc, 2009-08-01)
    The importance of gene movement from cultivated plants has been highlighted in regard to minimising the movement of seed and/or pollen between GM and non-GM crops (i.e. gene flow). Although ryegrass covers in excess of 90% of Ireland’s agricultural area, very little is known about gene flow from ryegrass populations from an Irish context. The goal of this project was to address this lack of data by measuring the degree of pollen-mediated gene-flow between two Lolium spp. in a field environment. Ryegrass (esp. Lolium perenne) was selected because as the dominant pasture grass it is critical for the livestock industry as well as being a current target for novel improvements. The results from this research indicate that the potential for pollen-mediated gene flow from perennial ryegrass decreases exponentially with increased distance from the pollen source, with hybridisation events recorded out at 192m. In parallel to this research, a separate study was conducted to assess the degree of genetic diversity within feral and wild Lolium spp across Ireland and also within the important crop weed Avena fatua (‘wild oats’); thereby providing an insight into the degree of historic gene flow that has occurred within each species and in regard to the latter, identifying the potential for non-native A. fatua to colonise the Irish agrienvironment.
  • Assessing populations of the major cereal pathogens for reduced sensitivity to MBC, DMI and Strobilurin fungicides

    O’Sullivan, Eugene (Teagasc, 2009-08-01)
    Studies of eyespot populations in winter wheat crops in the period 2001 to 2003 showed that the R type (Tapesia acuformis) is the dominant strain comprising 77% of isolates. Over 90% of isolates were resistant to MBC fungicides, 53% showed reduced sensitivity to prochloraz and 22% reduced sensitivity to cyprodinil. A study of winter wheat crops in February and March 2003 showed that resistance to strobilurin fungicides was widespread in Mycosphaerella graminicola (Septoria tritici) populations. Resistance was found in all but one of 21 crops sampled, at levels ranging from 9% to 84% with an average of 48%. Subsequent studies of 27 crops over the summer of 2003 showed that strobilunin resistance increased from an average of 31% before the application of the second (T2) spray to an average of 73%, three to four weeks after the application of the final (T3) spray. Strobilurin resistance in M. graminicola remained high in 2004, ranging from 50% to 100% with an average of 83% in populations in winter wheat crops sampled in March. The effect of different fungicide programmes on resistance was studied during summer 2003 at two experimental sites. Levels of strobilurin resistance in M. graminicola populations increased during the summer, in unsprayed plots and plots treated with triazole fungicides as well as in those treated with strobiurin fungicides at both sites. M. graminicola populations in winter wheat crops sampled in 2003 and 2004 were predominantly resistant to MBC-generating fungicides and sensitive to the triazole-based fungicides. Studies of the barley leaf blotch pathogen Rhynchosporium secalis showed that resistance to MBC fungicides occurred in 20% of isolates collected from crops from 2001 to 2003, but all isolates were sensitive to triazole and strobilurin fungicides.
  • Evaluation of rape-seed oil production, extraction and use as fuel in modified diesel engines

    Rice, B. (Teagasc, 2009-09-01)
    It is now well established that rape-seed oil can provide a sustainable source of renewable fuel for diesel engines. The main problem is a high viscosity and vaporisation temperature, which could lead to pumping, atomisation and combustion difficulties. These problems can be overcome in either of two ways: by further processing of the oil to improve its pumping and combustion properties (usually achieved by esterification and layer separation to produce biodiesel) or by some peripheral modifications to the engine to allow it to cope with the more viscous fuel. Engine conversion kits for this purpose are widely available. The second option has attractions in Ireland, at least in the short-term, for a number of reasons. Plants can be established quickly, and so could make an immediate if small contribution to the achievement of Ireland’s substitution target in the Transport Biofuels Directive (Commission of European Communities, 2003). The small operating scale of coldpressing oil extraction plants could be achieved without undue difficulty, and the capital investment required to launch such a project is relatively low. In the event of a biodiesel plant being established at some stage in the future, the option of sourcing some of the oil requirement from these extraction plants would still be available.
  • Pathways for Nutrient Loss to Water; Slurry and Fertilizer Spreading

    Ryan, T. Declan; Holden, Nicholas M.; Carton, Owen T.; Fitzgerald, D.; Murphy, F. (Teagasc, 2008-07-08)
    There are almost 150,000 farms in Ireland and these contribute substantial quantities of N and P to inland and coastal waters. Some of these nutrients are carried from wet soils by overland flow and by leaching from dry soils. Farm practice can reduce the loss from farms by judicious management of nutrients. Improvements are required to diminish export of nutrients without impairing operations on the farm. Literature regarding nutrient loss from agriculture was reviewed in this project and maps were prepared to predict best slurry spreading times around Ireland. Two further maps were prepared to show slurry storage requirement on farms.
  • An Optimized Chloroplast DNA Extraction Protocol for Grasses (Poaceae) Proves Suitable for Whole Plastid Genome Sequencing and SNP Detection

    Diekmann, Kerstin; Hodkinson, Trevor R.; Fricke, Evelyn; Barth, Susanne (PLoS, 2008-07-30)
    Background Obtaining chloroplast genome sequences is important to increase the knowledge about the fundamental biology of plastids, to understand evolutionary and ecological processes in the evolution of plants, to develop biotechnological applications (e.g. plastid engineering) and to improve the efficiency of breeding schemes. Extraction of pure chloroplast DNA is required for efficient sequencing of chloroplast genomes. Unfortunately, most protocols for extracting chloroplast DNA were developed for eudicots and do not produce sufficiently pure yields for a shotgun sequencing approach of whole plastid genomes from the monocot grasses. Methodology/Principal Findings We have developed a simple and inexpensive method to obtain chloroplast DNA from grass species by modifying and extending protocols optimized for the use in eudicots. Many protocols for extracting chloroplast DNA require an ultracentrifugation step to efficiently separate chloroplast DNA from nuclear DNA. The developed method uses two more centrifugation steps than previously reported protocols and does not require an ultracentrifuge. Conclusions/Significance The described method delivered chloroplast DNA of very high quality from two grass species belonging to highly different taxonomic subfamilies within the grass family (Lolium perenne, Pooideae; Miscanthus×giganteus, Panicoideae). The DNA from Lolium perenne was used for whole chloroplast genome sequencing and detection of SNPs. The sequence is publicly available on EMBL/GenBank.
  • Laboratory Development of a Passive Proportional Sampler for Overland FlowStudies in Agricultural Fields

    Ryan, T. Declan; Forristal, Dermot (Canadian Society for Bioengineering / Société Canadienne de Génie Agroalimentaire et de Bioingénierie, 2015-02-06)
    Water-quality in many rivers remains poor and needs to be improved. Diffuse pollution continues to cause difficulties. Some instruments are available which can monitor pollution of rivers from land. They allow measurement and sampling of overland flow (OLF), but they do not offer the precision required (proportional sampling and samples 0.1% of OLF). A laboratory unit was constructed to mimic instrument performance in the field. This was used to test three sampler designs. A V-notch weir was used in the first sampler and a Sutro weir in the second and third as this unit possessed a proportional discharge to head ratio, which the Vnotch weir did not have. Other parameters investigated included ground slope, sampler slope, pipe size and port location. The remaining issues of nozzle size (0.7, 1.0 and 2.0 mm), the number of 1.0 mm nozzles and the effect of aspiration were investigated. The arrangement with the Sutro weir and three 1.0 mm nozzles in series gave proportional discharge and the target low sampling rate of 0.1%. This will allow the calculation of sediment and chemical losses for the monitored area and will put the loss in context with other losses in a catchment.
  • Insights from the Fungus Fusarium oxysporum Point to High Affinity Glucose Transporters as Targets for Enhancing Ethanol Production from Lignocellulose

    Ali, Shahin S.; Nugent, Brian; Mullins, Ewen; Doohan, Fiona M. (PLOS, 2013-01-30)
    Ethanol is the most-widely used biofuel in the world today. Lignocellulosic plant biomass derived from agricultural residue can be converted to ethanol via microbial bioprocessing. Fungi such as Fusarium oxysporum can simultaneously saccharify straw to sugars and ferment sugars to ethanol. But there are many bottlenecks that need to be overcome to increase the efficacy of microbial production of ethanol from straw, not least enhancement of the rate of fermentation of both hexose and pentose sugars. This research tested the hypothesis that the rate of sugar uptake by F. oxysporum would enhance the ethanol yields from lignocellulosic straw and that high affinity glucose transporters can enhance ethanol yields from this substrate. We characterized a novel hexose transporter (Hxt) from this fungus. The F. oxysporum Hxt represents a novel transporter with homology to yeast glucose signaling/transporter proteins Rgt2 and Snf3, but it lacks their C-terminal domain which is necessary for glucose signalling. Its expression level decreased with increasing glucose concentration in the medium and in a glucose uptake study the Km(glucose) was 0.9 mM, which indicated that the protein is a high affinity glucose transporter. Post-translational gene silencing or over expression of the Hxt in F. oxysporum directly affected the glucose and xylose transport capacity and ethanol yielded by F. oxysporum from straw, glucose and xylose. Thus we conclude that this Hxt has the capacity to transport both C5 and C6 sugars and to enhance ethanol yields from lignocellulosic material. This study has confirmed that high affinity glucose transporters are ideal candidates for improving ethanol yields from lignocellulose because their activity and level of expression is high in low glucose concentrations, which is very common during the process of consolidated processing.
  • A note on the conservation characteristics of baled grass silages ensiled with different additives.

    Keles, G.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Forristal, P.D. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2010)
    The effects of contrasting conventional silage additives on chemical composition, aerobic stability and deterioration, and mould development in baled silage were investigated. Herbage from a grassland sward was wilted for 24 h and treated with acid (formic or sulphuric), sugar (molasses), bacterial (Lactobacillus plantarum, L. plantarum + Serratia rubidaea + Bacillus subtilis, or L. buchneri) or sugar + bacterial (molasses + L. plantarum) additives prior to baling and wrapping. Silage made without an additive preserved well and had a low incidence of mould growth, and the effects of additives were minor or absent. It is concluded that little practical benefit was realised when conventional additives were applied to wilted, leafy, easy-to-ensile grass prior to baling and ensilage.
  • Conservation characteristics of baled grass silages differing in duration of wilting, bale density and number of layers of plastic stretch-film

    Keles, G.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Lenehan, J.J.; Forristal, P.D. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2009)
    The effects of duration of wilting, bale density and number of layers of plastic stretchfilm used to wrap bales on the conservation characteristics of baled grass silage was investigated. Grass from the primary growth of a Lolium perenne dominant sward was wilted for 24, 48 or 72 h. For each duration of wilting, 54 cylindrical bales (1.2 m nominal diameter) were made with the baler at a high or low density setting for alternate bales. Bales were wrapped with 2, 4 or 6 layers of plastic stretch-film and stored outdoors for 295 days. Two layers of plastic stretch-film resulted in inferior preservation, lower digestibility and extensive mould growth and deteriorated silage. Substantial improvement occurred to each of these characteristics from applying four layers of stretch-film (P<0.05), while six layers of stretch-film brought little further improvement. When four or six layers of stretch-film were used, extensive wilting restricted fermentation and improved the standard of preservation with the apparently difficult-to-preserve herbage used in this experiment. However, under the anaerobic conditions provided by four or six layers of stretch-film neither progressive wilting nor bale density had a major effect on digestibility, or the extent of surface mould growth or deteriorated silage. It can be concluded that a minimum of four layers of conventional black plastic stretch-film were required to achieve suitably anaerobic conditions, and that the additional benefits from six layers were small. Once anaerobic conditions were achieved, extensive wilting improved the conservation characteristics of baled grass silage made from a difficult-to-preserve crop, whereas bale density had little impact.
  • Manipulating the ensilage of wilted, unchopped grass through the use of additive treatments

    McEniry, Joseph; O'Kiely, Padraig; Clipson, N.W.J.; Forristal, P.D.; Doyle, E.M. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
    Baled silage composition frequently differs from that of comparable conventional precision-chop silage. The lower final concentration of fermentation products in baled silage makes it more conducive to the activities of undesirable microorganisms. Silage additives can be used to encourage beneficial microbial activity and/or inhibit detrimental microbial activity. The experiment was organised in a 2 (chop treatments) × 6 (additive treatments) × 2 (stages of ensilage) factorial arrangement of treatments (n = 3 silos/treatment) to suggest additive treatments for use in baled silage production that would help create conditions more inhibitory to the activities of undesirable microorganisms and realise an outcome comparable to precision-chop silage. Chopping the herbage prior to ensiling, in the absence of an additive treatment, improved the silage fermentation. In the unchopped herbage, where the fermentation was poorer, the lactic acid bacterial inoculant resulted in an immediate increase (P < 0.001) in lactic acid concentration and a faster decline (P < 0.001) in pH with a subsequent reduction in butyric acid (P < 0.001) and ammonia-N (P < 0.01) concentrations. When sucrose was added in addition to the lactic acid bacterial inoculant, the combined treatment had a more pronounced effect on pH, butyric acid and ammonia-N values at the end of ensilage. The formic acid based additive and the antimicrobial mixture restricted the activities of undesirable microorganisms resulting in reduced concentrations of butyric acid (P < 0.001) and ammonia-N (P < 0.01). These additives offer a potential to create conditions in baled silage more inhibitory to the activities of undesirable microorganisms.

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