Zinc (Zn) deficiency in the soil negatively affects production of maize forage, and consequently dietary Zn intake by the livestock. The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of rate and method of ZnSO4•H2O application on forage yield, quality and digestibility of maize fodder grown on a low DTPA-extractable Zn soil. The treatments were: T1 = control; T2 = foliar application of 0.3% ZnSO4•H2O 30 days after sowing (DAS); T3 = foliar application of 0.3% ZnSO4•H2O 30 and 40 DAS; T4 = soil application of 16 kg/ha ZnSO4•H2O; T5 = soil application of 16 kg/ha ZnSO4•H2O + T2; and T6 = soil application of 16 kg/ha ZnSO4•H2O + T3. The experiment was performed in a randomized complete block design. The optimal rate and method of ZnSO4•H2O application resulting in improved fodder yield and quality of maize was obtained by T6 treatment. An increase in the fresh fodder yield, dry matter (DM) yield and Zn uptake by 25, 46.9 and 160.7%, respectively were recorded under T6 treatment. Digestibility parameters as digestible crude protein, total digestible nutrients, digestible DM, DM intake, net energy for lactation, digestible feed energy, relative feed value and relative forage quality of fodder were significantly (P ≤ 0.05) improved by soil plus double foliar ZnSO4•H2O fertilization (T6); however, a significant reduction in fibres content in fodder was noted. So, the Zn enrichment method combining soil addition and foliar spraying is the best one to improve the quality of maize fodder, and thus can be a good way to introduce Zn into animal nutrition.
The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.
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