12 April 1996

Dont jeopardise your silage yield

ROLLING and harrowing grass fields in spring can reduce silage yields by up to 20%, Somerset milk producer Steve Edmunds told last weeks Genus National Forage Conference, held at Reaseheath College, Cheshire. He also suggested taking a grass nitrogen test before silage-making this year, due to the late, cold spring.

He also advised producers to avoid using rented keep for silage making. The temptation is to apply more nitrogen than the poor grasses often on such land can use.

"The biggest single cause of poor quality silage is too much nitrogen – 85 units/acre, including slurry, is enough," he said.

Mr Edmunds suggested taking a grass nitrogen test before silage making this year due to the late winter and cold spring. When nitrogen levels are high delay cutting or make drier silage at 27-30% DM, he said. "It is more important how you make the silage than the additive you use."

He said formic acid and Live System inoculant were the only two additives worth considering.

He has used Live System for five years and his average silage quality over that time is 29% DM, 3.9 pH, 11.5 ME, 16.5% crude protein and 2.3% ammonia. His 120-cow herd yields 6500 litres a cow with 4362 litres from forage.