Forage crop yield and nutritive value under climate change in Canada


Thivierge, M.-N., Jégo, G., Bélanger, G., Bertrand, A., Tremblay, G.F., Baron, V., Rotz, C.A., and Qian, B. 2016. Forage crop yield and nutritive value under climate change in Canada. Proceedings of the 26th European Grassland Federation General Meeting, Trondheim, Norway, August 4–8, 2016. In Grassland Science in Europe, vol. 21, pp. 826–828.


Changes in forage yield and nutritive value under future climate conditions might affect the economic
and environmental performance of dairy farms. Few studies, however, have simulated future forage
production with a farm-scale model in areas with short growing seasons and cold winters. We assessed
the potential effect of future climate change on the yield and nutritive value of a mixture of alfalfa
(Medicago sativa L.) and timothy (Phleum pratense L.), pure alfalfa, and silage maize (Zea mays L.),
with an adaptation of seeding dates, maize hybrids, and the number of cuts of perennial forage crops.
Using the Integrated Farm System Model (IFSM), simulations covered three contrasting climate areas
in Canada for reference (1971-2000) and future (2050-2079) periods, with three climate models and
under two representative concentration pathways (RCP 4.5 and 8.5). Simulations indicated that yield
of perennial forage crops would increase in all areas (+3 to +65%) with little change in forage nutritive
value. Yield of silage maize would increase more in colder (+63 to +83%) than in warmer (+15%) areas,
while concentrations of neutral detergent fibre (NDF) and crude protein (CP) would decrease in the
colder areas only.