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Top 10 tips for making silage in wet weather; Farming Connect.

GRASS quality at cutting is key to producing high quality, well fermented and stable silage. However, this year's wet weather has led to significant delays in silage making on many farms.

Conditions remain very difficult with much of the Welsh crop yet to be harvested.

Late cutting leads to mature plants and lower quality silage. At the same time, grazing is getting short on many farms because there are no aftermaths available.

Farming Connect is working with IBERS Grassland Development Centre (GDC) on the "Mileage in Silage" project, with weekly grass quality and yield sampling at five demonstration farms across Wales.

Rhys Evans The results are published online weekly on the Mentera Busnes website.

Here, Sue Buckingham, of the GDC, provides 10 tips for silage making in 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. "Sacrifice" a few loads of grass for tractors to drive over - this will clean the wheels to reduce soil contamination of grass in the pit.

. ? Use an effective additive to help fermentation.

. ? Ensure net wrap is even and up to the edge of the bales. Wrap in at least six 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 allows for high quality silage.

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

Rhys Evans is Farming Connect's North Wales regional manager
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 26, 2012
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