Improving the use of machinery to make consistently better silage – that will be a key focus of leading forage preservation and animal nutrition company, Volac, at the 2020 LAMMA show (stand number 7.708, hall 7, NEC Birmingham, 7-8 January 2020).
According to Volac forage expert, Peter Smith, effective machinery use is at the heart of making good silage. Two machinery-related areas where there’s often scope to make gains are clamp consolidation and additive application, he notes.
“If there’s 100 tonnes of forage coming into a clamp per hour, it’s often assumed that rolling with a loader weighing about 14 tonnes is enough for a good consolidation,” says Mr Smith. “In reality, for forage at 30% dry matter, you actually need about 25% of the weight coming in per hour to be rolling the clamp – so the 14-tonne loader plus another machine weighing 11 tonnes would be required. Weight should be increased for drier silage and reduced for wetter silages.
“Importantly, both these machines need to be rolling the clamp continuously, not one waiting at the bottom for the next load of grass to arrive. By squeezing out more air through better consolidation, it not only reduces silage losses due to heating but also improves the fermentation,” he adds.
A simple technique to free up someone to put an extra machine on the clamp to improve consolidation, says Mr Smith, is to use additives suitable for ultra-low volume (ULV) application. Compared with water volumes used for traditional application, of 1-2 litres per tonne of forage, he says an additive suitable for ULV application, such as Ecosyl or Ecocool, can be applied in just 20 ml of water per tonne.
“This not only reduces the downtime needed for fill-ups,” he says, “as you only need a 2-litre bottle to treat 100 tonnes, so the day’s requirement of additive is easily carried in the cab, it also massively reduces the volume of water that needs to be lugged out to the harvester in the field. This frees up labour that can be better employed on the clamp.”
To help farmers make improvements in these and other areas, Volac will be offering a number of free on-farm silage consultations at LAMMA. These are being offered as part of the company’s Cut to Clamp initiative, which aims to help farmers improve silage-making and utilisation across six key areas: cutting, wilting, harvesting, treating, clamping and feeding. Further information at www.cuttoclamp.com.
The Volac team will also be on hand to answer questions about rearing calves on computerised feeders and the company’s range of feed fats.