Whether it is grass, maize or meslin, silage is the basic fodder of many rations for ruminants. Ensilage is a wet preservation technique, using anaerobiosis (oxygen-free environment), and acidifying fermentation, in order to guarantee the fodder the minimum loss of dry matter and food value during the duration of storage. The conversation. The objective is also to limit the appearance of undesirable microorganisms (mold, etc.). Silage sites are going faster and faster thanks to the technological evolution of forage harvesters, which allows for better work performance. However, this is often done to the detriment of the basic rules to follow to ensure good quality silage. The farmer is often the first actor in the success of good silage conservation.
The key success factors for good silage
First of all, the farmer must choose the right varieties to sow so that the plants reach the right physiological stage at the time of harvest. The objective is to have the best hectare yield and digestibility ratio. On average, for grass, it will be a question of harvesting at the end of bolting stage at the beginning of heading (approximately 25% of dry matter). For maize, the pasty stage (32% dry matter) is the best. Whatever happens, the cut systematically generates a loss of dry matter, between 2% and 12% linked to the respiration of the plants. It is recommend to chop fairly finely to facilitate future packing and therefore anaerobic conditions, as well as the release of sugars. It is also necessary to break the corn kernels well to optimize their digestion in the animals’ rumen.
The preparation of the silo should not be neglect for lack of time. It must be clean so that there are no traces of the previous content, nor residues of soil. At harvest, the silage will naturally be contaminat by various micro-organisms (molds, yeasts, enterobacteria, clostridia, etc.), but the level of infestation will depend on the climatic conditions on the day of mowing, the harvest stage and the silo cleanliness.
Once harvest, our silage must be pack: the quality will never be degrad by too much packing. The objective of this step is to expel as much oxygen as possible between the different layers so that anaerobic conditions are reach as quickly as possible. Oxygen-related respiration can cause up to 10% loss of dry matter. There is a very simple formula for calculating the weight of the tractor carrying out the man oeuvre: Yield x Height of the Silo x 400 (the result is given in kg). The size of the machine’s wheels is also important: the wider they are the greater the packed area.
The closing of the silo must be done as soon as possible. Above all, the quality of the tarpaulins used should not be neglect, as the slightest hole could jeopardize the anaerobic environment of the silo. It is necessary to be extremely vigilant with the sealing in particular on the edges and the front. More malleable, the maintenance of the tarpaulins is recommend with bags fill with sand. Tires, which are widely use, are less precise and a source of contamination (home to bacteria, rats, etc.).
When opening the silo, the farmer must be very careful each time the silage is remove. The leading edge must remain as smooth as possible (to limit the entry of oxygen into the silage and therefore the resumption of fermentation). He must also be careful not to uncover too quickly (the cover must be remove every two days and gradually).
Despite compliance with all these recommendations, silage remains a living organism and unpleasant surprises are frequent when the silo is open. There are solutions to help the farmer achieve success with his silage.
Solutions to optimize the conservation of the food values of silage
Two key stages can be support to add value to silage. The acidification phase is the first. It takes place as soon as the silo closes. The faster the acidification phase, the less nutrients the bacteria will consume, the less the food values will be degrade and the contamination’s limited.
To do this, the farmer can use an acidifying product: this is what is offer with the Sil 70 product, from the Eurosil range of the Timac Agro company, which makes it possible to reduce the acidification phase of the silo until it reaches at pH = 4. This addition of acid in granular form is practical (the farmer distributes the product by hand over the different layers of the silo). The product is also very low odor unlike existing liquid products on the market.
An antifungal can also be add at the time of the silage work. It limits the development of mold during storage and after opening the silo. Corn Sil is also available on the market, also offered by Timac Agro in its Eurosil range.
Finally, technology now makes it possible to have a product that can intervene in the two crucial stages of our silage. This product is made up of different strains of bacteria and enzymes allowing them to function properly. The first strains, containing “homolactic” bacteria, will allow a very rapid acidification of the silo, the food values are then little affected throughout the shelf life of the silage. When the silo is open, propionic bacteria will naturally produce propionic acid and ensure the stability of the silo. The best product on the market today is Silaprilib quatro from the Eurosil range of Timac Agro. Its concentration of bacteria makes it possible to take over the bacteria naturally present in the environment. Compatible with the high and low volume pumps that forage harvesters are generally equip with, the product preparation time is very short and the application is homogeneous. Usable in organic farming, this product is truly the ideal partner for successful silage.