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Preparing for Silage: Pre-Cut Testing

From the wet weather and flooding, it has already been a tough year, in addition to the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19. Farmers should be starting to think about pre-cuts silage testing in preparation for make good quality silage.

Pre-cut test? Why?

Pre-cut reports highlight whether sugars are high enough to cut, and can help determine whether an additive, and what type, may be needed to aid fermentation. Ensuring sugars are high enough is important as they are the substrate for fermentation, to increase the lactic acid and result in a well-preserved silage.

Following wet weather, there has been delayed fertilizer application. It is important to check the nitrate levels, as any which has not been converted to protein could negatively impact fermentation by reacting and causing an alkaline environment which prevents pH drop and increases nutrient loss and spoilage.

NDF levels and maturity of the grass, is another parameter when it comes to good quality silage making. In an ideal world, this should be tested multiple times in the lead up to anticipated cutting date to monitor the trend in NDF. Grass has continued to grow in non-flooded areas following the warm winter, where it is important to monitor these and cut before rapid surge in growth leaves you with a grass silage that is poorly digestible.

Pastures that have continued to grow over the winter and without having sheep to keep grass in check, swards often have a layer of dead material underneath the new growth leading to high bulk, but high NDF and poor-quality silage. This highlights the importance to assess with care when looking at pastures.

Pre- cut analysis can be carried out at our lab in Wardle, please contact your local NWF sales specialist for some pre-paid envelopes to be posted to you.

Source: Trouw GB Ruminant News, April 2020

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