It’s that time of year again when we should be thinking about ordering fertiliser and getting our slurry out in preparation for the silage growing season.
The target should be to make good quality silage with a Dry Matter Digestibility (DMD) of 75%. The DMD is a figure used to test the quality of the silage and the higher this figure is the better utilisation of the silage by the animal leading to better weight gains. Achieving this is particularly important on farms with autumn calving herds and where growing stock are kept over the winter months. The benefits are a reduced meal bill and stock in good condition when going to grass after the winter period.
Get your timing right
To make 75% DMD silage target a cutting date of approximately the 20th of May. Each 1 week delay in cutting after this date results in a 2-3% drop in DMD.
It is important to graze off silage ground in the springtime to remove any poor quality grass after the long winter period which can reduce silage DMD by up to between 5-7%.
On heavier farms achieving the targets set above can be tricky as it is not always possible to graze off silage ground or get slurry out before closing up silage ground.
Where this is not an option it is advisable to go with 3 bags per acre of a product like 10.10.20 or 18.6.12 and top it up with CAN or Protected Urea to bring the units of Nitrogen up to approximately 75-80 units. On recently reseeded ground you can apply up to 100 units of Nitrogen. Check soil sample results if available to see what amount of Nitrogen and Phosphorus are allowed under nitrates.
Before you plan to get ready to make your silage this summer remember the cost of making good quality silage is no more expensive than it is to make silage of lesser quality with big savings on meal bills over the winter housing period.