Silage Sheet Ballooning: Causes, Safety, and Solutions

Silage Sheet Ballooning: Causes, Safety, and Solutions

Here at Silostop Agri, we understand the importance of proper silage storage. Occasionally, after ensiling your crop, you might encounter a ballooned silage sheet. This ballooning is a positive sign of a great airtight seal in clamp and therefore excellent silage quality, but it can also be a sign of trapped silage gasses which can be harmful to human health.

What is Silage Sheet Ballooning?

Silage sheet ballooning occurs when gases (mostly carbon dioxide) produced during the fermentation process become trapped beneath the sheet. These gases can cause the sheet to inflate like a balloon.

Ballooning not Billowing

Ballooning is not the same as billowing, a billowing silage sheet is a sheet which is moving in the wind, and this is an indicator of an ineffective covering as there is not enough weight holding the sheet in place. If your sheet is moving in the wind, then you need to add more netting and gravel bags to hold it in place.  

Yellow Gas and Safety Precautions

The trapped gases under silage sheets can include harmful ones like hydrogen sulphide, which has a distinct yellow colour and a rotten egg odour. Hydrogen sulphide is highly toxic and can be fatal in high concentrations. It tends to be heavier than oxygen, so it spreads along the ground at knee height.

When you see ballooning or a yellow gas

  • Do not approach the silage: Stay upwind and avoid direct contact with the sheets.
  • Warn anyone in the immediate vicinity: Especially those unfamiliar with the dangers of hydrogen sulphide.
  • Cordon off the area and allow the gas to vent: Fence off the area around the silo while the gas vents which could take up to a week to completely disappear
  • Do not enter buildings and ventilate them: if the silage clamps are indoors or adjoining other buildings stop access to them and open doors and shutters as the gas can travel and ‘sit’ in poorly ventilated areas.

By following these tips and taking safety precautions, you can minimise the risk of injury and ensure the safe storage of your valuable crop.

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