22 May 2015 | Online since 2003



31 July 2012|Arable,Cereal,Crops,News

Wet silage: getting it better rather than worse


The continuing rain during this harvest season is giving farmers a particular challenge when looking to make high quality silage for the upcoming winter season. With this in mind, Dr. Dave Davies Independent Consultant to the Silage Advisory Centre provides a few tips on how to get the best out of wet silage.

The impact of the wet weather on this harvest season could be significant: silage quality is likely to be poor with low energy and protein contents, stocks of good quality silage are expected to run low this winter, and cereal whole crops are looking particularly challenged and likely to be low yielding. Alongside this, the flooding and drought conditions in various parts of the world will probably see the costs of ‘bought-in’ concentrate feeds increase even further.

“The fact that there appears to be no end in sight to this terrible weather means that time is running out for subsequent high quality silage cuts, so the sooner farmers can harvest the grass the bigger the window of opportunity for subsequent silage cuts,” explains Dr. Davies.

So now really is the time to focus on how to make the best possible silage from what is available in the fields. Dr. Davies provides a few pointers on how to turn a difficult situation better rather than worse.

Assess the fields. Wet or water logged areas increase the risks of soil contamination in the silage. Consider not cutting until the weather is drier, or if that is not an option, look into cutting and removing, not ensiling. Consider baling these areas, a preferable option to avoid risk of contaminating the entire silage clamp.

Aim for a clean cut. If the crop is still standing but the base of the sward is dead and slimy, adapt the cutting height to avoid this material, it is of poor nutrient and microbiological quality and you will reduce the risks of contaminating yeasts, moulds, listeria and clostridia. This will improve the fermentation and the nutrient quality admittedly at the expense of yield. If the crop is lodged do the best you can to obtain a clean cut.

Top your fields. Once the silage has been carted it is important to remove any uncut material if the field is to be used for a further cut. This can be done either by topping or by ‘mob grazing’ but it must be removed to improve both growth and quality of the subsequent cut.

Ensile in bales. Instead of waiting for the weather to come good in order to ensile in silage pits, it may be worth taking a gamble on one field at a time with a one day window of opportunity to ensile in bales. By taking a field out one at a time and making baled silage, the nutritive quality may not deteriorate as much and that field is then returned to growth which may offer crucial grazing land or a further cut of hopefully better quality silage in 5 – 6 weeks time.

Wilt rapidly. Once cut, it is important to obtain a rapid wilt. So even on a dull day, if the ground is free draining and dry, it is worth spreading the crop to speed-up the wilting process. If the forecast is for rain the following day, ensile the crop before the rain comes as the crop will only deteriorate further with the rain. Ensile even if it is below the ideal dry matter, the nutrient
Wet silage: getting it better rather than worse

content will be superior than leaving out a further few days in the hope that the weather comes good.

Finally, Dr. Davies recommends that this year more than ever it is imperative that farmers follow good ensiling principles.
“In particular farmers need to ensure that oxygen is removed during silage making and kept out until feed out, this will ensure that the limited supply of sugar will be converted efficiently to lactic acid to aid preservation and that yeasts and moulds don’t cause spoilage to the limited silage stocks. Alongside this, the likelihood of low sugar content in the silage crop may suggest the use of a good additive to control the preservation process.”

Download




Comments


No comments posted yet. Be the first to post a comment

To post comment without approval login or register

Display name

Please enter your name

Email (optional)
Comment

Please enter your comment

Post Comment

Your comment submitted successfully.Please wait for admin approval.

Some error on your process.Please try one more time.



Jobs


11 May 2015
Seasonal arable worker for 2000acres - Oxfordshire
Experience of large farm machinery is required along with a full clean driving license. Seasonal arable worker for 2000 acres...

7 May 2015
Agricultural Support Engineer
Are you passionate about farming and agriculture? Agricultural Support Engineer....

12 May 2015
FT / PT Back Office Assistant - sage & purchasing
We are a supplier of livestock equipment and all kinds of fencing to a large number of trade, local authority and public cust...

5 May 2015
Mobile Engineer - HGV Trailers
HGV, Off-highway, military, construction, MOD, agriculture machinery - maintenance repair or servicing. HGV, Trailer, HGV, Of...

5 May 2015
Sales Co-Ordinator
Kent's major visitor attraction and events venue, is now seeking a full-time Sales Co-Ordinator to work in the Head Office at...



Top stories you may have missed
15 May 2015 | Arable

Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead is calling on the Europ...


15 May 2015 | Finance

As the country settles down following the turmoil of the general election, ...


14 May 2015 | Animal Health

New research from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge has found that ...


13 May 2015 | Animal Health

A new publication to help farmers prevent sheep lameness and offer advice o...


12 May 2015 | Agri Safety

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is putting the spotlight on Liver fluke at next...


5 May 2015 | News

The UK is now third in the global rankings for utility-scale solar energy a...


29 April 2015 | Agri Safety

A recent Rural Watch demonstration and information event gave Farmers’ Unio...


24 April 2015 | Meat Processing

Retailers should confirm their commitments to sourcing UK lamb this season,...


15 April 2015 | Meat Processing

A leading retailer has apologised after selling imported lamb in a Borders ...


9 April 2015 | Finance

The time has come for landlords to expect to see reductions in farm rents, ...