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Ten Tips for Making Grass Silage

1. Maintain Sward Quality

Re-seed as and when needed with recommended Perennial Ryegrasses which combine high yields and feed value with long life. Use the Time to Re-seed? booklet from MDC to determine when re-seeding is economically viable.

2. Apply Nitrogen Wisely

Fertiliser applications based on soil analysis. Nitrogen Fertiliser for three cuts should be no more than 120 kg/ha, 100 kg/ha and 80 kg/ha respectively and should take account of slurry applications. Phosphate and Potash applications dependent upon soil analysis. Use RB209 to determine exact rates for N, P and K.

3. Cutting Date

This is the most important single factor affecting silage quality. As the crop approaches ear emergence the yield is increasing rapidly but quality begins to decline. You must decide on the correct balance between quantity and quality - eg. 50% ear emergence of grass occurs at a D-value of 67 (digestibility of 670g/kg D.M.).

4. Avoid Soil Contamination

This often occurs due to the harvester scalping the ground, or by the lifting of mud by the machinery wheels in wet conditions.

5. Wilting

Aim to achieve a rapid wilt over a period of 24 hours.A wilt over 24 hrs will decrease digestibility of a crop by 1.5%,if over 36 hours digestibility will drop by 3.5%. A crop of over 25% Dry Matter will minimise effluent production and will improve intakes.

6. Planning

Silos should be thoroughly cleaned and ensure silo barriers are ready for erection. Machinery well serviced and if using a contractor, that he is booked well in advance.

7. Additives

Use an additive which is proved to be effective and ensure it is applied at the recommended rate. Consultation with the U.K. Forage Additive Approval Scheme should act as a guideline to define the right product for the job.

8. Ensure Silos are Filled

  • QUICKLY to reduce the time that grass is exposed to air.
  • EVENLY to achieve uniform consolidation.

9. Seal Silos Airtight

This is best achieved by using side-sheets along the walls of the silo with two layers of polythene sheeting weighted down over the entire surface.

10. Slurry Application

Avoid contamination of re-growths. If applying slurry between cuts, use material of "thin" consistency at a rate of 6,750 litres/ha. within the first few days after cutting.

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