The International Conference ‘Forage Conservation’ is a long-term collaboration over several decades between academic and commercial organisations in the Republics of Czechia and Slovakia. Conferences have been held alternately in the two countries and this year the meeting is in the High Tatras mountain region of northern Slovakia. Researchers, advisers and consultants will attend from many countries - from Brazil to Finland. Most of the participants will be from Central and Eastern Europe. Technical and scientific sessions will be held on forage crop production, conserved feeds in the nutrition of animals, control of silage fermentation and hygienic quality of silage.
Exciting new results from recent research in Australia with Silostop oxygen barrier bale wrap will be presented at the conference. A major problem with baled silage is the high proportion (up to 70%) of the total volume of the bale that is within 200 mm of the outer surface. Moisture condensation in the outer layer and oxygen permeation through the film wrap create an ideal environment for the growth of undesirable microorganisms such as yeasts, moulds and listeria. The trial in Australia, by Silostop distributor Lallemand Animal Nutrition Ltd, demonstrated under commercial farm conditions that silage wrapped in four layers of Silostop bale wrap and stored for 227 days had lower yeast counts compared to silage from the same crop wrapped in four layers of standard polyethylene bale wrap film and also stored for 227 days. Yeast counts were significantly lower for silage under Silostop, not only in the outer 200 mm layer but also in the central part of the bale at 400 to 600 mm depth. Ash concentrations were lower in silage wrapped in Silostop than in silage wrapped in standard polyethylene film, indicating lower loss of organic matter during the storage period.
Yeasts are important in initiating the deterioration of silage in the presence of oxygen. The reduction in yeast count demonstrates the efficacy of the oxygen barrier film and indicates improved hygienic quality of silage wrapped in Silostop bale wrap film.
In another contribution to the conference by the Silostop Tech Team, a technique will be described to assess avoidable top layer losses from commercial bunkers and piles. Top layer losses can be between 3 and 15% of total dry matter (DM) ensiled, but farmers only see the spoiled silage that remains and do not see DM lost as carbon dioxide and water during storage.
The technique involves taking samples of silage from the top 200 mm and also from the core of the silo and comparing the concentrations of ash in top layer silage with that in silage in the core. Results from twelve commercial silos revealed a wide range in avoidable loss in the top 200 mm from 2 kg to 77 kg DM per square metre of top surface (average 19 kg DM). Assuming silage is worth €120 per tonne DM, the avoidable loss is worth over €2 per square metre and this technique can be used to compare the cost of different silo covering treatments.
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