When it comes to sealing stacks of forage harvested for silage there’s no short cuts according to Department of Environment and Primary Industries pasture and fodder conservation specialist Frank Mickan.
Mr Mickan said simply placing a few tyres on top and spreading dirt around the edges of a plastic tarp would not be enough to create an airtight seal.
In order to ensure well stored silage with no visible signs of waste from decomposition or mould, Mr Mickan recommends following a few simple tips:
■Make silage at a suitable dry matter content. Precision-harvested material of about 1cm-5cm can be ensiled at 40 to 50 per cent dry matter as its length will allow for easier and better compaction, but must still be well sealed to preserve the benefits.
■Roll your silage slowly to allow the weight of the tractor to compress the material. Spread the harvest material thinly in layers of about 150mm to 200mm.
■Ensure stacks are sealed straight after harvest by pulling a plastic sheet over the stack at night and using tyres around the stack edge with a few in the centre to weigh down the plastic. Ideally the stack should be completed within one to three days.
■Fix any holes immediately.
■Prevent stock damage by constructing fences and gateways.
■Crops harvested with loader wagons or double choppers which harvest relatively long chopped material of 5cm-15cm should be harvested at 28 to 35 per cent dry matter. If material is much drier than this, compaction by rolling will be much less effective unless an extremely heavy machine is used, because not enough air will have been excluded.