Maize for Silage
MOVING MAIZE SILAGEBack to Technical Insights
While the best option is to stack maize silage close to where it will be used, sometimes it is necessary to relocate the contents of a maize silage bunker or stack after it has fermented. Moving silage re-exposes it to the air and there is a risk of significant losses of both drymatter and quality. This technical bulletin outlines management strategies to minimise the losses associated with moving maize silage.
CONSIDER STORAGE AND INOCULANT OPTIONS AT HARVEST TIME
If you are planning to store maize silage for off-farm sale or think that there is a possibility that the stack will need to be moved, consider storage and inoculant options at harvest time.
Baling is an excellent storage option. Baled maize silage is easy to transport and the silage is not re-exposed to the air during the transfer process therefore losses are lower. It is however more expensive than storing silage in a bunker or stack.
If baling is not an option, make sure that the chopped maize is inoculated with a silage inoculant that contains Lactobacillus buchneri (e.g. Pioneer® brand 11C33 or 11CFT). Normally inoculants that contain Lactobacillus buchneri are used to extend the time before heating when silage is exposed to the air at feed-out time but they can also be used to help reduce the amount of heating when silage is moved from one storage structure to another.
MOVING MAIZE SILAGE
If you have a stack or bunker of maize silage that needs to be moved to another location first of all consider whether baling is an option.
While it is preferable to bale maize silage at harvest time, it can be baled after it has been fermented in a bunker or stack. The big advantage of baling is that the stationary maize baler can be located immediately adjacent to the stack or bunker and the material can be transferred to the baler using a loader or digger and immediately sealed into the bales. This reduces the time that the silage is re-exposed to the air and lowers the amount of drymatter loss.
If baling is not an option, follow the guidelines below.
- Prepare the new bunker or stack site in advance. Purchase a new cover and salt for the top of the stack. There is no advantage in using bacterial inoculants on material that has already fermented.
Work quickly to minimise silage exposure to the air. Peel back the cover to expose just enough silage to transfer in the load. Remove the material using a loader or digger taking care not to scrape too close to dirt floors or walls.
- Work quickly to minimise silage exposure to the air. Peel back the cover to expose just enough silage to transfer in the load. Remove the material using a loader or digger taking care not to scrape too close to dirt floors or walls.
- Fill in a wedge shape. Fill the new bunker or stack in a wedge shape (Figure 1) to minimise silage exposure to the air and ensure good compaction.
Figure 1: Filling in a wedge shape
- Compact thoroughly. Spread each load into a 100 - 150 mm layer so that it can be compacted properly. If large loads are being delivered to a stack site, dump the loads in front of the stack. Build the stack by taking small loads to the stack layering as you go to achieve the desired shaping.
- Apply salt. The application of 1 - 2 kg/m² of salt to the surface area of the stack will reduce the spoilage of maize silage immediately under the cover. While salt is considered optional when harvesting and storing maize silage under normal conditions, it is a necessity when moving and re-stacking maize that has already fermented.
- Cover and seal quickly. The quicker the environment of the stack becomes anaerobic after the sealing of the cover the lower will be any loss in feed value. Use a high quality cover and seal around the base of silage stacks by placing a layer of sand or lime. Weigh down your silage cover firmly with tyres that are touching or sand bags placed closely together.
- Rats and mice. Keep the area around the stack tidy and free of long grass and weeds where rats and mice can reside. Place rat baits in bait stations on the ground at each side of the stack. Treat any holes that appear in the cover with a handful of salt onto the silage inside the hole and seal the hole with silage cover tape.
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Revised: June 2015
Expires: June 2018