Tips for whole-plant silage

Whole-plant silage (WPS) is a mixture of straw, grains or kernels that is quite susceptible to reheating. Appropriate silage management therefore plays a decisive role, both when harvesting and during the ensiling process. Our service identifies all essential management factors for producing high-quality WPS silage.

Harvesting time

The optimal harvesting time is between late milky ripeness and early waxy ripeness

  • Waxy ripeness: Grains/kernels can be dented with a fingernail, and liquid still bursts out of a compressed shell.
  • Straw is beginning to change colour, although stem nodes, awns and the upper two thirds of leaves are still green.
  • Dry matter content in whole plant: 32–40%
  • Crude fibre content no more than 24%: otherwise energy density and ensilability deteriorate due to increasing straw content.

Caution: Note the pre-harvest interval for feed use after applying crop protection products.


Cutting height

Cutting heights of 20–40 cm have proven effective for creating a grain/straw ratio of 1:1. Higher cuts may be used to increase the energy content in silage. However, this will be at the expense of mass yield.

Chop length

The optimal chop length is 6 to a maximum of 8 mm. Otherwise good compaction cannot be ensured. Stems and stem nodes must be split open; otherwise their tubular structure prevents adequate compaction and ensiling.

Silage additive

The tubular stem structure creates a loose mass inside the silo that promotes the circulation of air. As a result, the risk of reheating due to moulds increases. Cereal GPS is additionally low in nitrate and therefore susceptible to the formation of butyric acid. BONSILAGE silage additives reliably produce aerobically stable WPS silages.

Dosing technology

The effect of BONSILAGE silage additives depends on precise application rates, among others, as these are decisive if lactic acid bacteria preparations are to be optimally effective. SCHAUMANN dosing technology is tailored to BONSILAGE products.

Compaction

Optimal compaction of WPS silages helps prevent reheating. Ideally, compaction results in at least 230 kg DM/m³ if the base substrate has a dry matter content of 35%. At 45% DM, compaction should aim at a minimum of 260 kg DM/m³.

Measures for optimal compaction:

  • The higher the crude fibre and dry matter contents, the smaller the layer depths should be

  • Rolling from the start, as the effect remains superficial otherwise

  • Max. 3–4 km/h rolling speed

  • No twin tyres

  • Tyre pressure aof t least 2 bar and as high as possible

  • No excessive rolling towards the end, as this can cause a pumping effect due to silage springing back

Cover

For optimal silage wrapping:

  • Oxygen barrier adheres directly to silage (strength: 40-50 μ)
  • Main silage plastic must be gas-tight (strength: 150-250 μ)
  • Silage netting protects films against mechanical damage and provides additional weight
  • Silage sandbags as additional weights for a snug fit. Silage sandbags allow air-tight barriers to be created at 5 m intervals to prevent air entering at silo faces
  • Side walls should be covered with side wall plastics, where applicable
  • Intermediate sealing in case of delayed ensiling (over 6 hours)

Silo face

WPS silages are highly susceptible to reheating, which causes expensive nutrient losses. The minimum removal rate should be 2 m to avoid this.

How to prevent heating:

  • Create a narrow, shallow silo
  • The more even the grain/straw ratio, the better the ensilability
  • Ensure that the silo face is away from the prevailing wind direction
  • Avoid removing silage film in advance
  • Optimise removal technology
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