It is not always easy to produce good quality lucerne hay. Moreover, there are not many alternatives among the different types of fodder with the necessary protein content. At the same time, when growing organic soybeans, weed control can be an issue.
Growing soybeans: having a leguminous plant in the crop rotation is always beneficial, and harvesting it in advance in the form of silage allows you to obtain a quantity of fibre and protein comparable to lucerne. It also makes the presence of weeds (within certain limits) acceptable.
Soybean silage can replace part of the lucerne hay or part of the lucerne silage.
Observations and practical tips
• Best at the R6/R7 stage (full seed size for apical pods and beginning maturity for basal pods).
• Late harvests (stage R7/R8) promote good silage fermentation and preservation of the product; however, there is a loss of dry matter.
• If harvest occurs at stage R5/R6, use a swather to mow the soybean 24 to 48 hours prior to chopping (at around 35 % dry matter).
• Choose varieties with low levels of anti-nutritional factors.
• Increase seed rate to decrease stem diameter.
• Consider using a microbial inoculum to promote proper fermentation.