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Piecing together the secrets of making good silage
With the onset of Spring the grass silage season is just around the corner again. We know we say it every year, but to succeed in making the most of this valuable staple forage crop it is essential to observe good practice through every stage of silage production.
Making good silage is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together and, like a jigsaw, the pieces of the puzzle combine to create a complete image. If a piece is missing - or even incorrectly inserted - it adversely affects the result and you will never get to see what could be achieved.
Outlined below are six vital pieces of the jigsaw that will help you ensile your grass with minimum loss of feed value and avoid unnecessary wastage from aerobic spoilage.
Assuming you’ve done all you can to grow a top quality grass crop, putting our pieces into the frame will ensure that your silage is ‘a picture’ this year.
Safesil is a special blend of food grade preservatives applied to the crop as it is picked up by the harvester.
Safesil eradicates all the major spoilage organisms - enterobacteria, clostridia, yeasts and moulds - that are present on forage crops in large numbers at harvest. Proven to be supremely effective across a wide range of dry matters and crops, Safesil is the only silage preservative that guarantees long-term storage stability [Journal of Dairy Science 94:824–831]. Because of Safesil’s action against undesirable bacteria DM loss during fermentation is drastically reduced when compared to no treatment or treatment with biological inoculants. (D. Davies IGER 2010).
As a consequence of its powerful action against yeasts and moulds, trials have demonstrated Safesil’s ability to provide excellent aerobic stability, with no loss of feed value, 260 hours after exposure to air. (SLU 2009, D. Davies 2010). Aerobic instability, which is indicated by heating silage, is the single biggest cause of nutrient loss in silage on farms. In trials, and on farm, Safesil has the proven ability to prevent these losses across a wide range of dry matters and on all silage crops from grass to wholecrop to maize.
No matter which additive or preservative is used, accurate application is critical to success. The Silaspray SP Standard-Maxi is a high-specification pump that can be fitted to forage harvesters, forage wagons, and balers. A key feature of the pump is its ability to deliver high volumes of additive at rates of up to 550 litres/hour, equivalent to up to five litres per tonne. It is particularly suitable for use with Safesil to ensure the correct application rate.
Silaspray SP Standard-Maxi features a 12V DC/15A electric motor, electronic control, a digital display of the flow rate and two integrated memory stores. An electronic cutoff switch can also be supplied so that when the forager is not picking up forage, the pump automatically switches off, ensuring the most efficient use of the additive and minimising wastage.
The first secret of a great clamp of silage is compaction, compaction, compaction! And that’s exactly what a SilaPactor delivers. Air pockets in the clamp are a breeding ground for bacteria, yeast and mould spores - and must be eradicated.
At 3m wide and weighing about 4,000kg with 11 individual roller rings, a SilaPactor speeds up the compaction process almost four-fold, saving both time and fuel. What’s more, it can increase dry matter compaction density by up to 40% when compared to conventional tractor rolling. Achieving even compaction using the weight of a tractor involves a lot of manoeuvring. Edge compaction is often compromised or results in damage to side sheeting. It is all very time consuming, uses a lot of fuel and doesn’t really provide the weight or consistency of compaction required to eliminate all air pockets. But with a simple, low-maintenance SilaPactor air (oxygen) is eliminated faster, ensuring the right conditions for an efficient fermentation, better nutrient retention and optimum utilisation of valuable clamp space, making significant savings in overall feed costs.
O2 Barrier 2in1
Having excluded as much air as possible the next step is to keep it out! Because conventional polyethylene silage sheets can be quite oxygen permeable (allowing up to 300 cm3 of oxygen per m2 to pass through them every day) it is normal practice to put more than one layer of sheeting on the top of a clamp in order to keep the air out. This is time consuming, labour intensive and usually results in a lot of swearing!
O2 Barrier 2in1 is applied as a single sheet which transforms into two on the clamp; a protective, high-quality top layer covering a layer of very oxygen impermeable, polyamide vacuum film. O2 Barrier provides quick and effective clamp sealing with reduced workload, and up to a tenfold decrease in oxygen permeability (less than 30 cm3 of oxygen per m2 per day). Up to 40% lighter than conventional sheeting systems, O2 Barrier ensures the rapid formation and sustainability of anaerobic conditions in the clamp.
Within a short time of being laid the vacuum film absorbs moisture from the silage and separates from the top film, it is then sucked down onto the silage surface, creating an airtight seal.
Made from 90 per cent re-cycled material with a life expectancy of around 15 years ClampTiles are ergonomically designed for ease of handling. Unlike tyres, they don’t harbour rainwater and debris, and when not in use can be stacked on pallets for compact and convenient storage.
ClampTiles simply butt together to provide total edge-to-edge protection, helping to minimise bird and rodent damage right across the clamp.
ClampNet is a 300g/m2, heavy-duty green silage cover with seamed, stitched edges to prevent fraying or unravelling. It offers added protection from attack by birds and vermin and also helps to maintain compaction.
ClampNets are reusable and feature reinforced ‘loops’ to enable secure attachment of gravel bags, allowing weight to be focussed on the shoulders of the clamp and providing the final piece of our silage-making jigsaw.