Analysis of Grass Prior to Silage Making
Given the very dull weather we have seen recently, the sugar levels in all of these samples are very good. Our target is to achieve over 3% sugar in the crop at ensiling which is why we show the sugar at 30% DM column. Generally there is a lot of grass out there following the mild winter, and it is growing fast. AHDB reported a growth rate of 48kg DM/ha/day for this week, which is a long way ahead of the 32kg DM/ha/day for the same week last year. Protein levels are running similar to this week last year. Nitrates are running fine on all of these samples (target < 1,000 mg/kg at cutting). This will vary in all farms depending on nitrogen application dates, so make sure you test your crops before cutting. Sampling before cutting will also allow us to check the protein content is not significantly higher than the sugar content when harvested (as seen in many the samples above), as these crops are more difficult to ensile with a risk they could compost in the clamp rather than ferment. Our advice this year is to cut as soon as ground conditions allow, and the weather window suggests you have a dry spell to enable a wilt to 30% DM, (24 hours if spread, 36 hrs if not). Many of you are running very low on forage, and not taking the usual carry over in to the summer, so it can be tempting to hold off an extra week to add bulk to the clamp. It is always a balance between quality and quantity, but good quality forage is one of the biggest drivers in improving efficiency and profitability. Additives? – An extra tractor rolling is still the best additive, unless conditions are extremely unfavourable. Silage compactors are great tools but beware of mulching the crop if it goes in very leafy as this will make the clamp face liable to slip forward when feeding out. Pay special attention to clamp edges and regular compaction of thin layers to reduce spoilage and improve fermentation. If you are particularly concerned that ground conditions are wet and there is a risk of soil contamination in silage then it would be worth using a preservative type additive such as SafeSil. Please get in touch with us if you wish to send in your own samples, or use existing sample bags if you have any, tick the pre-cut grass analysis box when filling in the information sheet. Regards, The Kelly Farm Consulting Team!
Office 01454 614624