Publications

Corn stover usage and farm profit for sustainable dairy farming in China

He, Yuan; Cone, John W.; Hendriks, Wouter H.; Dijkstra, Jan

Summary

Objective: This study determined the optimal ratio of whole plant corn silage (WPCS) to corn stover (stems+leaves) silage (CSS) (WPCS:CSS) to reach the greatest profit of dairy farmers and evaluated its consequences with corn available for other purposes, enteric methane production and milk nitrogen efficiency (MNE) at varying milk production levels. Methods: An optimization model was developed. Chemical composition, rumen undegradable protein and metabolizable energy (ME) of WPCS and CSS from 4 cultivars were determined to provide data for the model. Results: At production levels of 0, 10, 20, and 30 kg milk/cow/d, the WPCS:CSS to maximize the profit of dairy farmers was 16:84, 22:78, 44:56, and 88:12, respectively, and the land area needed to grow corn plants was 4.5, 31.4, 33.4, and 30.3 ha, respectively. The amount of corn available (ton DM/ha/yr) for other purposes saved from this land area decreased with higher producing cows. However, compared with high producing cows (30 kg/d milk), more low producing cows (10 kg/d milk) and more land area to grow corn and soybeans was needed to produce the same total amount of milk. Extra land is available to grow corn for a higher milk production, leading to more corn available for other purposes. Increasing ME content of CSS decreased the land area needed, increased the profit of dairy farms and provided more corn available for other purposes. At the optimal WPCS:CSS, MNE and enteric methane production was greater, but methane production per kg milk was lower, for high producing cows. Conclusion: The WPCS:CSS to maximize the profit for dairy farms increases with decreased milk production levels. At a fixed total amount of milk being produced, high producing cows increase corn available for other purposes. At the optimal WPCS:CSS, methane emission intensity is smaller and MNE is greater for high producing cows.