Development of a NIRS calibration to estimate cell wall digestibility of silage maize for a better variety choice in function of ration and cattle type

Project Details


Main research question/goal

The aim of this research is to develop a robust NIRS calibration to estimate the cell wall digestibility (NDFD) of silage maize varieties. The NDFD is an additional nutritional parameter, which is added to the so-called 'variety list' -the official assessment of the (new and recent) commercial maize varieties. This parameter allows farmers to better choose their seed in function of their own farm and allows breeders to select more targeted maize with better feed value.

Research approach

The researchers start from an already existing NIRS calibration for NDFD from previous research, using the in vitro digestibility with rumen fluid as a reference method. This calibration is validated and updated with samples of the seasons 2017 and 2018 and of 2019, from the official variety research from ILVO as well as the varieties tests in the VARMABEL network (CIPF and LCV). The researchers plan for each of the 3 years a selection of 20 samples of ILVO and 20 of VARMABEL, based on the NIRS spectrum, to analyze NDFD using the reference method.


This additional value of "cell wall digestibility" in the variety list should allow the farmer to make a better choice of the maize variety based on the share of maize silage in its basic ration and the type of livestock (milk or beef cattle). We also expect that the maize breeding companies, once they know the NDFD, can improve the global feed value of silage maize. In this way, specific varieties may enter the market for different farm types. The new parameter is directly applicable to the official variety testing at ILVO, as well as to the variety comparisons done by other Belgian networks including the LCV.

Funding provider(s)
Fonds Landbouw en Visserij

External partner(s)
Hogeschool Gent
Effective start/end date1/04/1931/03/20