Serving the Farming Industry across East Anglia for 35 Years
Modern silage films are making the ensiling process quicker and more reliable – and delivering a significant return on investment. “True oxygen barrier films... Latest clamp technology boosts cost efficiency

Modern silage films are making the ensiling process quicker and more reliable – and delivering a significant return on investment.

“True oxygen barrier films can help reduce wastage and ensure more of the forage energy clamped is available for milk or livestock production,” says Jim Juby of Horizon Seeds.

“Used properly, they can virtually eliminate top-layer shrinkage losses which means as well as being able to offer cows better quality silage, you’re actually feeding more of it.

“Plus, you will be using a lot less plastic than with other systems. Silostop films, for example, are 100% recyclable, and the new Orange 45 micron film when used with multi-year UV covers can reduce plastic usage by 50%.”

Consolidation is key

Whatever film is used, the key is to keep as much oxygen out as possible with applying wall film the first operation to be considered, says Mr Juby.

“Make sure the clamp is as clean as possible then line the walls with side sheeting to make sure oxygen cannot enter through them, this will also protect the concrete from silage acids.

“Ideally, leave 0.5m of film at the base of the walls and an extra 1m at the top of the wall so this can be folded back over the shoulders once the clamp is full. Make the silage surface as dense and smooth as possible by lots of rolling.

“It’s important to make sure you have enough tractors consolidating fresh material as it arrives. It’s a false economy to have high work rates in the field that then lead to clamp management being compromised.”

Scientific studies have shown that Silostop film reduces dry matter losses in the top layer of silage by at least 50%, says Mr Juby.

“The top 1m of silage is worth at least £24/m2 of surface area, so using the film will give you an extra £12/ m2 worth of quality feed in the clamp and no waste to fork off the top at feedout.

“If you also use an effective additive you can reduce this further. Applying Silosolve FC at 1l/tonne will ensure your clamp stabilises faster and also reduce heating in the feed passage, reducing refusals and mycotoxin levels in the feed.

“SiloSolve FC is a combination of Lactococcus lactis O-224 and Lactobacillus buchneri O-224 which consume oxygen at all stages of fermentation resulting in anaerobic conditions after just six hours – a process that normally takes at least 48 hours.”

When applying films, do not pull them too tight, Mr Juby advises.

Seal clamps carefully

“Allow the film to follow the contours of the silage surface. If needed, overlap the joins in the film by at least 1.5m. Silostop Max is available in up to 28m wide rolls so there is a size that suits most silage pits.

“Side sheets need to be tucked under the final top sheet to give the best airtight seal possible, this will also ensure that rainwater sheds off the silage rather than decreasing silage dry matter.”

Modern films need suitable protection to make sure they stay in place and remain undamaged by weather and potential pests, he adds.

“This is easily achieved by using a Secure Cover and Silostop Orange film must also be protected from physical damage and ultra-violet light (UV) by an anti-UV net.

“Gravel bags or mats are the best materials for keeping covers in place. Use solid rows of neatly placed gravel bags to provide an effective weight on outside edges and joins.

“Remember, at feed out, always keep a row of gravel bags on the front edge of the film at the top of the feed out face to prevent oxygen ingression underneath the sheet.

“Growing cost effective, quality forage enables costs to be controlled on farm allowing livestock farms to make more money, with correct silage making procedures playing a key role in this.”