Maize for Silage
LONG-TERM STORAGE OF MAIZE SILAGEBack to Technical Insights
Maize silage that is well stacked and sealed can maintain its quality for several seasons providing high-quality supplementary feed whenever it is required.
Whether you are making maize silage that will be stored for one season or several, the key focus is to harvest at the correct time and apply good harvest management techniques to ensure that air is quickly removed from the silage and kept out for the duration of the storage period. Once the maize has been harvested, the stack sealed and air kept from re-entering the stack, the silage will remain in tip-top condition indefinitely.
If you are making maize silage that will be stored for more than a season, pay particular attention to the following points:
- Stack or bunker location. Make sure that your maize is stored away from trees where falling debris can damage the cover. Keeping away from hedges and drains will help reduce the risk of vermin damage to the stack. Make sure that the site is well-drained so that water cannot run into the silage.
- Apply a quality silage inoculant (e.g. Pioneer® brand 1132 or 11C33) at harvest time. Using the right maize silage inoculant products will help to ensure a good fermentation and reduce fermentation and storage losses.
- Ensure good compaction density to reduce the risk of spoilage. Roll each load of maize silage delivered thoroughly with a tractor that applies high pressure to the harvested maize, i.e. use maximum compaction weight (use weights and fill tyres with water) and allow enough rolling time. Spread maize thinly in layers less than 15 cm thick.
- Use a high-quality cover. Ultra-violet light breaks down plastic. The higher the quality plastic the longer it will last. Use a high micron cover and seal the plastic around the base of the stack of bunker completely using soil, sand or lime.
- Place tyres that are touching over the bunker or stack. This will weigh down the cover and prevent any air from billowing underneath it.
- Use rat bait. Rats can cause significant damage to the cover. It is much easier to keep them out of a silage stack than to try and exterminate them once they have already got into the bunker or stack. Place rat bait in bait stations around the stack and replenish it as required.
- Watch out for bird damage to the cover. Some birds (especially pukekos) can also make holes in the cover. Use netting, a low electric fence or shade cloth over the tyres to prevent birds breaking the cover.
- Check the stack on a regular basis. Patch any holes that develop in the cover immediately. Check that the edges are well sealed and use glyphosate to eliminate the growth of grass and weeds in the area immediately around the stack or bunker.
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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.
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Revised: Jan 2020
Expires: Jan 2022