Growing Safflower for Silage to Enhance Water and Nutrient Management on California Dairy Farms (Part 2)

Soil sample

RESEARCHER: Stephen Kaffka, UC Davis

TIMELINE: January 2021 to March 2022

BACKGROUND: Increasingly restrictive regulations with respect to both water supplies and ground water protection will require new strategies to sustain dairy farming in the state. Safflower can recover nutrients and water at greater depth than any other available annual crop. Grown in winter, it will minimize irrigation water requirements.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the potential of safflower as an alternative winter forage crop that also helps improve water and nitrogen management on California dairy farms. Crop development, nutrient uptake and yield will be monitored; the crop will be analyzed for feed quality as it develops. To create a dairy ration feeding model that adds safflower silage and includes on-farm crop water use requirements. To optimize available water use on representative CA dairy farms using this model under increasing restrictions due to SGMA. To extend results to the dairy community through outreach and publications.

INDUSTRY BENEFIT: The potential to incorporate a new crop into crop rotations that can improve nitrogen utilization by recovering water from deeper in the soil profile. Both of these traits will help dairy farmers with state regulatory compliance. Winter safflower would provide a new low-cost alternative feed on farms.