Effects of sodium nitrite treatment on the fermentation quality of red clover-grass silage harvested at two dry matter concentrations and inoculated with clostridia
Legumes are particularly susceptible to clostridial fermentation when ensiled because of their high buffering capacity and water-soluble carbohydrate contents. The aim of the study was to investigate if a sodium nitrite treatment (900 g t-1 herbage in fresh matter [FM]) impairs butyric acid fermentation of red clover-timothy-meadow fescue silage compared with formic acid-treated (4 l t-1 FM) and untreated silage. The sward was harvested after wilting at low dry matter (DM) (LDM, 194 g kg-1) and high DM (HDM, 314 g kg-1) concentrations and half of the herbage batches were inoculated with Clostridium tyrobutyricum spores before additive treatments. No butyric acid fermentation was observed in HDM silages probably because of the relatively high DM and nitrate contents of the herbage mixture. In LDM silage butyric acid was detected only in formic acid-treated silage, and the number of clostridia copies was higher in formic acid-treated than in sodium nitrite treated silage. Sodium nitrite treatment was superior to FA treatment in suppressing clostridial fermentation in the LDM silages.