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10 tips for achieving the best quality for your silage.

Byline: SION EVANS

GRASS quality at cutting is key to producing high quality, well fermented and stable silage.

However, this year the long period of wet weather has led to significant delays in silage making on many farms.

Farming Connect is working with IBERS Grassland Development Centre (GDC) on the Mileage in Silage project.

Weekly grass quality and yield sampling has been ongoing on five Farming Connect Demonstration Farms across Wales.

The results are published online weekly in Mileage in Silage bulletins which also provide farmers with guidance and advice on how to achieve top quality silage.

Here, Sue Buckingham (GDC) provides 10 tips to help you make the best of the wet conditions: * Increase cutting height to 7.5-10cm (3-4 inches) to avoid harvesting dead and sometimes mouldy material. * Increase chop length to 7.5-10cm (3-4 inches) for wet grass of less than 20% dry matter.

Use a mower conditioner to speed up wilting and spread the cut sward as widely as possible, don't wilt for more than 24 hours.

Wide tyres and half loads will help reduce soil damage. * Provide extra stone in gateways and "sacrifice" a few loads of grass for tractors to drive over to clean the wheels to reduce soil contamination of grass in the pit.

Use an effective additive to help fermentation and order enough to treat the extra grass resulting from delayed cutting.

Ensure net wrap is even and up to the edge of the bales and wrap in at least 6 layers of film -the wrap punctures more easily with the stemmy mature grass.

Stack low dry matter bales no more than two high, the extra weight can squash the bales at the bottom and cause "popping" of the sealed wrap, allowing air to enter the bales.

For productive stock like dairy cows and in-lamb ewes consider cutting and baling small acreages if a short, fine weather window appears to produce high quality silage.

Consider strip grazing a silage field if livestock are short of grazing.

* Sion Evans is Farming Connect Regional Manager for South West Wales
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 31, 2012
Words:345
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