Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 20 August 2017

10 ways to slash your silage bills

 

There are steps you can take to cut silage costs
There are steps you can take to cut silage costs
Derek Casey

Derek Casey

Prompt payment and buying bale wrap in bulk are among our tips for keeping costs down.

1 Walk your silage ground

There can be no excuse for not walking every acre to be mown before allowing a contractor on to the land. This is in your own interests. Many contractors are using self-propelled mowers and harvesters worth north of €250,000 and stray objects like fencing posts or wire can cause huge damage.

2 Consider providing a dinner

Contractors and their weary drivers appreciate a meal if they are working long hours. When the time for payment and writing the cheque comes, the contracting team that was looked after will be more inclined to negotiate.

3 Have help at hand for the pit

For pit silage, be sure to have plenty of hands ready to get the pit covered quickly and efficiently. There is nothing more annoying for a contractor than spending hours covering the pit while the next customer is waiting for the team to arrive before the weather breaks. So plan ahead, have the cover ready to go and all tyres at hand.

4 Prompt payment


Every contractor's favourite customer is the farmer who insists on paying 'going out the gate'. Not everyone can afford to do this, but if you can, it is often very worthwhile because most contractors offer a discount for prompt payment. It is often possible to knock €10-€15 an acre off the average silage quote if the farmer pays the contractor at the gate. If you have 50ac of silage charged at €110 an acre, that comes to a €750 saving.

5 Plan ahead for additives

Additives are not used as much anymore, with many farmers opting to wilt instead. If you are using one, a bit of advance planning is needed - whether it is getting the grass tested for sugars or ordering, collecting and having it delivered. Some of the powder type additives have to be mixed in water and left for a day before they are ready. The barrels should be transported to the fields and left so they are easy to load on to the harvester.

6 Set up a 'drive-through'

Space is needed around the yard while the pit is being made. Where new facilities are being planned, leave ample room for working in front of silage pits: 12m-15m between silage pits and sheds. The silage making process will be more efficient and safer if the loader operator has room to keep going while tractors and trailers come and go.

7 Get the basics right

Before cutting silage, ensure effluent tanks are empty. Check the pit base and walls to they are structurally sound and clean the pit base to avoid costly contamination of forage.

8 Less is more

For baled silage, two ways to lower the bill are to reduce the number of bales made per acre by wilting the grass properly, and to produce denser bales.

9 Buy in bulk

If you are supplying your own bale wrap (as opposed to the contractor supplying it), a good idea is to form a buyers' group with a few other farmers in your area. A group of 10 farmers has much more clout ordering from the local co-op than you have on your own.

10 Don't short change on safety

Last, but certainly not least, never cut corners when it comes to farm safety. The months of May and June are statistically the most dangerous months on the farm.


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