Details of an interesting silage making survey carried out by the Ulster Grassland Society were given by Dr S M Brown, head of the Experimental unit at Greenmount Agricultural College, at the society’s winter conference in Belfast last week.
Dr Brown said that from the survey it was found that almost half of the farmers applied farmyard manure and cattle slurry to grass intended for silage.
He pointed out that cattle manure was difficult to breakdown and that only moderate applications should be applied to grassland. He also stated that large quantities of slurry should not be dumped on grass as there was a risk of producing silage with a poor fermentation.
The average rate of nitrogen usage was 77 units per acre, Dr Brown revealed. A few farmers applied late applications (one to two weeks) of Nitrogen prior to cutting and he pointed out that this would produce a poor fermentation silage. Mature grass which received a late application of nitrogen would not produce a poor fermentation silage, he said.
“The majority of farmers did not start silage making until the third or fourth week in June,” he said. “This would make a poor feeding value silage but the late spring of 1969 was probably the reason for the late start to silage making.
“In a normal season a high feeding value silage could be made if the grass was cut during the second week in May, a medium feeding value silage if cut during the last week in May and a poor feeding value silage if cut in June.”
He revealed that an additive was used by 57 per cent of the farmers, the most popular being Molasses, Add-F (formic acid) next and then Lylage. Generally, silage, made in June did not require an additive but he pointed out that silage made in mid or late May did. It was considered that formic acid was the most suitable additive, especially for ensiling young grass. The majority of farmers ensiled their grass directly, but approximately one-third wilted their grass before ensiling it.
Some 22 per cent of farmers, he reported, still allowed the grass to heat up before filling started. Continuous filling from the start of ensilage could be safely practised.