Investing in silage management
Lucy Johnson, from Silostop, talks to Charlie Steer, the Arable Farm Manager at Grosvenor Farms, to see how they have been getting on with Silostop Max.
In 2019, Grosvenor Farms harvested approximately 36,000 tonnes of silage, split into 1,300 acres of maize, 660 acres of grass and 900 acres of whole crop to feed 4,000 dairy cows.
“The sheets have worked well for us - we are using a multi-cut system and opened clamp around 6 times. It’s so much easier only having one layer, you can see there is no waste at all on the top or sides.”
Charlie is using Silostop Max on the walls and top of clamps. He commented that the sheet is much easier to use, which the staff in the yard agreed with. “It saves us a lot of time, at least 1 hour per clamp. When you’ve got 8 clamps and 8 people that’s at least £2,000 a year saved in time and wages for sheeting up, that is before the time saved in forking off mouldy silage once you open it up.”
By only using one sheet of plastic, Grosvenor Farms have been able to reduce their plastic usage on their clamps by 50% compared to a standard black PE sheet at 125-micron and a cling film at 40-micron. The Max sheet is UV stable, so it only requires a protective net to deter pests. “We are going to save the top sheets and use them on the walls next year so we are recycling everything.” Charlie adds. Because Silostop Max is strong it can be taken on and off the clamp in a multi cut operation and it maintains its oxygen barrier properties.
The clamps in the yard are in excellent condition; they have been consolidated and managed extremely well. Charlie explained that they had put an additional 2 tonnes of weight on when compacting, which showed in the open clamps, as there was no wasted silage on the shoulders or sides. The clamps all had an even spread of weight on the top to keep the Max sheet and protective net close to the silage, ensuring the oxygen barrier seal was maintained.
Silostop sheets come in a variety of different sizes starting at 8 metres width, going up to 27 metres, with lengths of 35 and 50 metres, and then 150 or 300 metres. “Silostop do great sizes that actually fit the clamp, rather than just a limited range of standard sheets you have to cut up”. The larger sheets are marked at metre intervals so the team sheeting up can pull out what is needed and know how much they have left over.
In 2020, Silostop launched the new SupaCova Anti-UV cover, a 210gsm long-lasting re-usable cover offering 99% shading, eliminating the need for a PE film when combined with Silostop Orange film. Its tight weave also prevents physical damage from birds, rodents and hail, making it ideal for all kinds of environments. It is designed to reduce the damage to the film caused by UV light. SupaCova Anti-UV is available in a variety of sizes to fit all clamps and bunkers. It has a long lifespan so when combined with our Orange film, results in a sharp decrease in overall plastic usage, helping farmers improve sustainability.
The gravel bags hold 17kg of pea gravel and are easily stored and stacked on a pallet. They eliminate the need for tyres and remove the risk of tyre wire related illnesses. They all come with a fill line and tie handles, and by not filling to the top of the bag they are able to follow the contours of the silage and maintain the oxygen barrier seal.
Silostop film reduces visible losses by eliminating waste silage, which is typically 10% of the top 1m of the clamp, and invisible losses by an additional 20% through loss in DM through shrinkage. There will always be a degree of shrinkage as the top layer can’t be compacted as well as the bottom of the clamp, but Silostop can reduce this to 10%, providing an additional 20% of valuable feed in that top 1m.
The reduction in DM loss also results in a higher retention of nutrients, and more uniform nutritional value throughout the clamp profile. The return on investment is 4 to 1 when switching from conventional sheets, and the aerobic stability is also increased by 2 days once the clamp has been opened, making the silage more palatable at feed out.
Unlike standard Polyethylene (PE) sheets, Silostop film is made up of a unique composition of 9 different layers containing Ethylene Vinyl Alcohol (EVOH) binded and extruded together with a built-in oxygen barrier.
Silostop Orange 45-micron film is our original underlay film, needing UV protection from a PE top sheet, or ideally a UV cover complete with physical protection. Silostop Max film is an 80-micron one-layer film for use in conjunction with a protective net or UV cover.
Both films cling to the surface of the silage and provide an impermeable oxygen barrier, which is supported by validated published trial work across the world.