Back Spot the maize silage difference.

Date: 09 February 2016

Every year at harvest time farmers who make maize silage have to answer two important questions. Do I apply a silage inoculant and is it worth the cost?

Let’s play ‘spot the difference’, using the years of research undertaken by Pioneer® brand products and university researchers to show us just how significant the variances can be.

The first big difference is completely invisible. After harvest the maize starts to ferment which preserves the nutrients in the silage. When the acidity of the stack reaches a critical level (below pH 4.0), the energy is locked in. Until it reaches that level, the goodness can be lost, so the faster and more efficient the fermentation, the less energy is lost.

Natural fermentation uses the micro-organisms that exist naturally on the maize but, without knowing exactly what they are and how many there are, there is a greater chance farmers will end up with lower quality silage. Pioneer® brand inoculants have a guaranteed number of bacteria listed on the label of every bottle. They also come with the Appli-Pro® applicator system which ensures bacteria are evenly distributed in the chopped forage. Pioneer inoculants are proven to improve the fermentation process, making more nutritious silage.

Now, if you’ve got good eyes, you can actually see the next benefit because silage stacks that have been inoculated with Pioneer® brand 1132 have on average 2.4% more silage (drymatter basis) than non-inoculated stacks.1

Furthermore, the bacteria used in the Pioneer inoculants have been carefully selected so that starch and fibre in the maize are easier for livestock to digest. The patented maize-specific fibre technology bacteria found in 11CFT means less fibre and starch passes through farmers’ livestock and instead goes into making more milkTM or more meatTM.2

So not only are they getting more silage, it is also more nutritious.

The next difference is also not visible (well, not to the naked eye).  When the silage stacks are opened up, the air coming in kick-starts the growth of some microorganisms. They start digesting the silage and burning off valuable nutrients as heat. This waste of energy can be seen with an infrared camera. However, if you use Pioneer® brand 11C33 or 11CFT the heating is significantly reduced. 3 This means that after opening a new stack, heating will be delayed on average by 55 hours4, with more of the energy going into the livestock and not into the atmosphere.

Now the last key difference can easily be seen, a healthier bank balance. On average, Pioneer® brand 1132 inoculated silage yields 10% more milk per tonne of silage than non-inoculated silage.5 This translates to a return of more than $7.00 for every dollar invested.6 When you look at it like that, spotting the difference Pioneer® brand inoculants can make is easy.

To find out more about which Pioneer® brand inoculants will make the biggest difference on-farm, contact your local Pioneer representative.


1 Drymatter losses are calculated using data from 48 fermentation trials comparing Pioneer® brand 11C33 inoculated maize silage with an untreated control.

2 Based on six lamb digestion and 4 on farm high performance dairy trials that compared Pioneer® brand 11CFT inoculated maize silage with an untreated control.

3 While 11C33 and 11CFT inoculated maize silage can be fed out immediately after harvest, it will stay cool for longer when it’s fermented 30 days prior to feeding.

4 Time before heating was measured using eight New Zealand maize silages inoculated with Pioneer® brand 11C33 compared to an untreated control (Kleinmans et all 2011, Proceedings of the NZ Grasslands Association 73:75-80).

5 Based on losses relative to an untreated control, using drymatter recovery data from Pioneer trials and milk production measured in a Washington State University dairy trial that compared Pioneer® brand 1132 inoculated maize silage with an untreated control.

6 Returns calculated using drymatter recovery data from Pioneer trials, Washington State University dairy trial milk production results and a milksolids payout of $5.00 kgMS.