5 May 1995

Check out those silage bunkers

By Michael Gaisford

IT is still not too late for that final annual check of empty silage bunkers before they are refilled with new season crop.

Stiffer penalties are being imposed for causing environmental pollution with silage effluent. So it is vital to ensure that cracked joints in bunker silo floors and walls are sealed properly to avoid leakage and silage spoilage. It is also time to ensure that silage effluent collection systems are in good working order.

"Even though we remind farmers every year, bunker silage maintenance on most farms is too often a rushed job three days before silage making starts. It is not done as well as it might be," says Dr Mike Kelly, head of the Scottish Agricultural College farm building department at Auchincruive, Ayr.

"Silage clamp maintenance must not be neglected, particularly with the heavy fines for effluent leakage that can be imposed under the Control of Pollution Act," says Mr Jim Loynes, ADAS buildings consultant for south west England.

They both maintain there is plenty of advice and renovation materials available for farmers to ensure their bunkers are ready to receive new crop grass.

Both industrial and specialist agricultural sealant products may be considered for up-grading bunker silos.

One leading supplier of specialist agricultural sealants is Livestock Systems, Tickenham, Bristol. Its technical director Mr Simon Pearson admits that on many farms, there is only a short period when silage bunkers are empty and repairable. But he claims that pressure has eased on farms that also produce maize silage. They are able to alternate the use of clamps between maize and grass silage each year.

Where renovations are being carried out, Mr Pearson stresses the importance of cleaning all damaged surfaces before applying any new protective coatings.

"Particular attention must be paid to all floor and wall joints, the bottom 500mm (19.5in) of the walls and any effluent channels," advises Mr Pearson. &#42