Maize for Silage
Insight 305


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Maize silage is normally traded on a standing basis with the purchaser paying for the harvesting and all subsequent costs. There are two main methods of purchasing a standing crop.

1. Per kilogram drymatter (kgDM)

In this case the grower and purchaser agree upon a standing price (c/kgDM). Legally, under the Weights and Measures Act 1987 and Weights and Measures Regulations 1999, all crops that are sold on a weight basis must be weighed on a Weights and Measures approved weighbridge. Every load of the crop must be weighed to determine the wet weight. Drymatter samples are collected throughout the harvest period and analysed to determine the drymatter percentage.

Crop wet weight (t/ha) x drymatter (%) = crop drymatter yield (tDM/ha)

The advantage of buying a crop on a per kilogram drymatter basis is that you know exactly how much you will be paying for each kilogram of drymatter that you feed. The main disadvantage is that cartage costs may be increased if trucks have to detour to be weighed.

A four page Guide to the Code of Practice for Trading Maize is available free of charge from the Foundation for Arable Research, PO Box 80, Lincoln 7640, telephone 03 325 6353, by visiting their website: or by calling the Pioneer Advice Line toll-free on 0800 PIONEER (0800 746 633). 

ode of Practice for Trading Maize is available free of charge from the Foundation for Arable Research, PO Box 80, Lincoln 7640, telephone 03 325 6353, by visiting their website: or by calling the Pioneer Advice Line toll-free on 0800 PIONEER (0800 746 633).

2. Per hectare basis

The grower and purchaser agree upon a price per hectare prior to crop harvest time. The actual maize silage cost (c/kgDM) will vary greatly depending on the per hectare price paid and the crop yield (Table 1).

Table 1: Effect of per hectare price and yield on the standing price (c/kgDM) of maize silage

Purchase price ($ha)Crop Yield (kgDM/ha)
  16,000 18,000 20,000 22,000 24,000 26,000
3,000 18.8 16.7 15.0 13.6 12.5 11.5
4,000 25.0 22.2 20.0 18.2 16.7 15.4
5,000 31.3 27.8 25.0 22.7 20.8 19.2

When a crop is purchased on a per hectare basis, the purchaser gains the advantage of a high drymatter yield and the risk of a poor drymatter yield. Selling on a per hectare basis means that there is no requirement to weigh the crop or to take drymatter samples to determine yield.


1. Harvesting

Harvesting is usually charged on a per hectare basis.  Higher yielding crops will have a lower harvesting charge on a per kilogram of drymatter basis. Crops grown on large flat paddocks will also tend to have lower harvesting charges than those grown on hilly or small paddocks.  The rate of harvest is significantly slower when weeds are present in the base of the maize silage crop. It is important to approach the contractor who will be harvesting the crop to get some indication of how much it will cost to harvest the crop you are purchasing.

2. Cartage

The cartage cost will vary greatly depending on the distance that the crop must be carted and the type of trucking units that can be used. Cartage costs will be significantly cheaper if access to the crop and the stack is good and truck and trailer units can be used. Contact your local trucking company to determine accurate trucking costs for your area.

3. Pioneer® brand 1132 or 11C33 maize silage specific inoculant

A Pioneer® brand maize silage specific inoculant should be applied to all maize silage preferably through the forage harvester as the crop is chopped.

Widespread independent trials have proven that 1132 improves fermentation quality and reduces drymatter and energy losses. The resultant silage gives more milk or meat per tonne when compared to an untreated control. 

Pioneer® brand 11C33 maize silage specific inoculant has the advantage over 1132 in that while it gives excellent fermentation results (like 1132), it also gives improved aerobic stability at feed-out time.  This means less heating and therefore less energy loss. 

4. Stacking

This is the charge for the tractors that are compacting the silage. Contact your local contractor for approximate costings.

5. Covering

Maize silage requires a high quality plastic cover. Actual cover costs will depend on the shape of the silage stack or bunker. 

6. Ensiling and storage losses

Pioneer® brand 1132 maize silage inoculant has been proven to reduce fermentation losses to 3% or less.  Storage losses are variable depending on how well the stack is compacted and sealed. Under good management practise, total fermentation and storage losses should be no more than 6%.


Purchase agreement

A maize silage contract protects both the grower and the purchaser. Normally a deposit is collected by the grower at the time that the crop is contracted. Some crops are contracted prior to planting and this is the preferable option as it allows both parties to choose the Pioneer® brand maize hybrid and planting population that will give the best maize silage yield. 

In addition, it allows the purchaser to plan their autumn feeding regime depending on when the maize silage will be harvested. 

See Pioneer Technical Insight 307: Preparing a Maize Silage Contract for further information.

Pioneer® brand products are provided subject to the terms and conditions of purchasing, which are part of the labeling and purchase documents.

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The information in this publication is general in nature only. Although the information in this publication is believed to be accurate, no liability (whether as a result of negligence or otherwise) is accepted for any loss of any kind that may arise from actions based on the contents of this publication.

© 2021, Genetic Technologies Limited. No part of this publication can be reproduced without prior written consent from Genetic Technologies Limited.

Revised: Sep 2019
Expires: Sep 2022