Kelvin Cave Ltd has been informed that plastic manufacturers are expecting significant price rises which are likely to affect the cost of bale wrap this season.
This highlights the benefits of treating moist hay and haylage with a preservative, which, at many moisture contents, can be used instead of plastic wrap.
The preservative, BaleSafe, can be used as an alternative to plastic on conserved grass at up to 25% moisture. This is both cheaper and far better environmentally than using wrap.
It has been calculated, using figures from the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC), that the average price to wrap a 1.2m round bale with six layers is £6.22. At a bale weight of 400kg, this equates to £15.55 per tonne.
However, the price rise forecast by some bale wrap manufacturers is between 8% and 12%. This would increase the price of wrap to between £16.80 and £17.42 per tonne!
However, the alternative of using BaleSafe comes at a substantially lower cost. Since it contains a mixture of human-food grade preservatives and organic acids, BaleSafe can also be relied upon to kill yeasts and moulds.
Application rates vary with moisture content, but even at the maximum six litres per tonne, the cost is only £14.40 per tonne. The added benefit is avoiding the inconvenience and environmental damage caused by plastic disposal.
Farmers are therefore urged to consider drying their haylage to 25% moisture or lower, and preserving instead of wrapping.
Furthermore, those who make the more traditional 15% moisture hay could benefit from higher moisture baling. This can be game-changing when a hay crop is slow to dry or when rain is threatening. Preserving the hay at a higher moisture (up to 25%) rather than 15%, also captures more nutrients, leads to fewer losses through leaf-shatter and creates a less dusty forage.
This case study on demonstrates how BaleSafe is used on a Scottish farm. The table in this study gives guidelines of which preservatives suit which forage and when wrapping is needed.