The warm conditions experienced in May to date has meant ideal silage cutting conditions for much of the country in the past couple of weeks. Grass growth levels had been slow as Spring took it’s time in arriving but farmers across the country are now reporting good recovery in growth rates. Given grain and feed price trends in recent months and a precarious situation in Ukraine affecting the market, bringing in as much quality silage in the weeks ahead has never been so crucial. Here are some easily implementable steps to ensure your harvest is as successful as possible and that your silage lasts longer into the winter.
1. Check your Eligibility for Silage Support Scheme 2022
For beef and sheep farmers the Department of Agriculture has recently announced a €100/ha payment for all silage cut up to a maximum of 10ha meaning potential payments of up to €1,000. The scheme is for any beef and sheep farmers sowing fodder, hay or silage this year. If this includes you and you have not already, ensure you apply for this scheme.
2. Replenish Nutrients with Prompt Slurry Spreading
Considering the nutrient losses which result from a cut field, it is vital to replenish the nutrients as soon as possible following a cut as the earlier nutrients are added back to the soil, the sooner the grass starts hitting optimal growth rates again. Farmers are increasingly planning slurry spreading slots prior to first cuts of silage to ensure minimal time in nutrient deficit. This is particularly applicable this year given many farms are slightly behind the usual nutrient levels seen at this time of year with fertiliser shortages and extreme price hikes experienced so far this year.
3. Prepare your Pit or Hardcore Area
Prior to any cuts, it should also be ensured that your silage pit or hardcore area for storing bales is clean and free of leftover silage or sludge. If you are thinking of storing bales, a hard surfaced area for storage means less hardship when moving bales in the Winter months. Any area for storing silage benefits from being far away from any risk of effluent contamination.
4. Safety First – Always!
With active machinery, often farmers and contractors working simultaneously, and rushing to harvest as much silage as possible, silage season can be a dangerous time on-farm. Practical steps such as ensuring children are not around the farm during the silage process, keeping the silage height level below the side walls of the pit, and keeping yards clear of any excess hay or plastic wrapping will mean less interference with machinery and workers.