12 May 1995

Wales makes more grass silage

WELSH farmers made 6.7m tonnes of grass silage in 1994, or 2% more than the previous year, and the quality of much of it was excellent.

Though almost 75% of winter fodder used in the principality is silage, it is not a cheap feed to produce, and it makes sense to do the job as efficiently as possible.

But research shows that too many farmers still turn very palatable and nutritious herbage into an indifferent quality fodder.

Weather has an important and uncontrollable influence on silage quality, as does the need to get sufficient tonnage in store. But analysis results indicate that a significant proportion of farmers are failing to achieve good fermentation, and are tolerating avoidable excessive dry matter losses.

While there is no substitute for good silaging technique, modern machines and silage additives can counter climatic effects, and get silage in store faster.

But selecting the right products for particular farm circumstances is not easy, and mistakes can be very costly.

Welsh Grassland 95 is a very important event. It will not only give farmers the opportunity to see the latest tackle; they can see it working.

This is crucial, whether they operate their own machines or use a contractor.

The show will also let silage makers quiz technical specialists from companies marketing additives, and demand independent test data to back up claims about their efficacy.

Forage maize is beginning to be important in some parts of Wales, and there is interest in wholecrop cereals, new varieties of kale and fodder roots.

But grass silage will continue to be the main winter feed on farms west of Offas Dyke. So a fact finding trip to the Towy Valley to attend Welsh Grassland 95 would be a good investment.