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Management tips Ensiling & forage production

Silage management - Tips for successful maize silage

Trecker mit Mais

The optimum harvesting time is when starch deposition in the kernel is complete. The dry matter (DM) content of the whole plant should be between 29 and 34 %. The DM content in the kernel should be between 56 and 60 %. The growing degree days model offers a good means of forecasting the maturation of maize crops. A range of factors such as variety, sowing time, soil type, available water in the soil and climate data, such as the temperature, precipitation volume and total radiation, are used to forecast the maturity. The maturation behaviour of the specific maize variety is taken into consideration in the forecasting. The data can be found at www.maisprog.de

Cutting height

The optimal cutting height for a hygienic ensiling is 30 cm. This can have a major influence on the yeast and mould load of the maize silage. A multitude of fermentation pests can be found in the lower parts of the stem. In addition, the crude fibre and ash content increases in the lower parts, and the energy content drops (see Fig. 1).

Chop length

The optimum chop length is 6 to 8 mm. This helps to ensure precise compaction, an improved use of silo space and low losses. In principle: The drier the silage material, the shorter the chop length.

The right silage additive

BONSILAGE silage additives for a range of different action categories can be used in addition to the fundamental principles of ensiling to encourage the fermentation process (see Fig. 2). Choosing the right additive depends on the specific farm requirements.

Compaction and covering

The inflow of oxygen causes reheating and with it a loss of energy and DM. The better the compaction of the silage, the less air and oxygen can enter when silage is taken. At a pick-up rate of 20 t DM or above (e.g. 66 t at 30% DM), optimum compaction cannot be achieved using one vehicle, even when rolling continuously. TIP: When working with high silage volumes and small silage clamps, it is best to work in two silos in parallel using several rolling vehicles. The silo must be covered correctly as soon as the rerolling is finished: An oxygen barrier, gas-impermeable cover sheet and protective silage netting all help to protect against damage, silage sandbags act as weights and an air-tight barrier, side wall film should be used when there are side walls.

Tip: In addition to the strength of the silage film, the gas-permeability, elasticity, UV and acid resistance are also all important markers of quality.

Silo face

To avoid any reheating, the minimum removal rate should be 2 m per week. A removal technique that leaves behind a smooth and barely disturbed silo face should be used so that as little oxygen penetrates the silo as possible and rewarming is prevented.

Yeast load and contents of the maize stalk in the lower part of the maize plant
Fig. 1: Yeast load and contents of the maize stalk in the lower part of the maize plant
Example of a correct coverage for maize silage
Fig. 3: Example for a correct coverage
Silage management – Key values for maize silage
Silage management – Key values for maize silage