Grass growth across the UK is being hampered by cold and dry conditions and in Scotland some areas are still seeing snow showers.
This could make 2021’s silage crop more challenging, ‘though it is early days, and we hope that the weather, especially overnight temperatures, pick up in the next few weeks’, says William Wilson business development director for ARK Agriculture.
The pressure on grass growth makes preserving any precious silage made more important than ever. It could also lead to more people wanting to cut silage multiple times later in the year to catch up with missing volume.
ARK Agriculture is suggesting that farmers look again at the covers they are using and consider investing in better single layer oxygen barrier silage sheets and silage nets to help this process.
‘Making good silage is an artform and avoiding losses in clamp is very much a jigsaw and a significant part of reducing waste is the way you cover the clamp’.
‘Silage sheeting is the easiest controllable,’ he adds, ‘You can’t control the weather, but you can control the sheets you use’.
A tougher single layer oxygen barrier silage sheet can be used multiple times on the same clamp in the year, ‘unlike delicate cling film layers or the budget black plastics we know that a stronger silage sheet can be taken off the clamps, a new cut added and then re-covered with the same sheet’, adds Mr Wilson.
He advises against the use of the same sheets over multiple years though as bacteria from silage on sheets that have already been used then stored could contaminate new silage.
An oxygen barrier silage sheet is a plastic which contains EVOH resins stopping the transmission of oxygen; a true oxygen barrier silage sheet will have an oxygen permeability rate; this figure should be as close to 0 cm3/m2/24 hours any numbers higher than 10+ cm3 / m2 / 24hours are not effective barriers and will not achieve the same results.
Silage nets should be knitted not woven, designed to stay on the clamps in high winds, UV stable and they should also be weighed down with gravel bags replacing tyres.
You can find out more about ARK Agriculture and their silage storage options online