Clamp down on consolidation losses

02 May 2019

Thorough clamp consolidation is a vital step in making good silage. But it is also an area where the attention to detail needed to achieve it is often underestimated, according to Volac.

It will be running a practical competition on its stand to identify the correct weight of machinery needed for effective clamp consolidation, at this year’s ScotGrass event on May 15.

Sealing techniques

Also on the stand at the event, which will be held at SRUC Crichton Royal Farm in Dumfries, will be a model demonstration of ideal clamp sheeting and sealing techniques.

“Effective consolidation, sheeting and sealing to ensure airtight conditions are key steps that underpin silage-making,” says the company’s Jackie Bradley. “But they are also easy steps to get wrong.

Efficient fermentation

“An air-free clamp not only provides the conditions for an efficient fermentation – the pickling process that preserves the forage’s dry matter and nutrients – it also helps to reduce silage heating. The latter is caused by yeasts and moulds feeding on the silage in the presence of air.”

She adds that summer 2018’s drought and forage shortage underlined just how important it is to minimise dry matter and feed value losses.

Heating losses

“Unfortunately, heating losses can be a particular problem in clamps that are opened in the warm summer months, but many producers had to do this in 2018 simply due to a lack of grazing.”

As well as techniques for managing the clamp, Volac’s Ecosyl silage experts will also be on hand during the event to offer advice on other stages of best practice silage-making and utilisation – including cutting, wilting, harvesting, treating and feeding.