7 Common Forage Storage Myths
Growing and storing forage is something people have been doing for a long time. Many practices and beliefs have been passed down which includes common misconception in the industry.
Here are 7 myths about storing forage and real facts to help optimise forage management decisions:
Myth #1: One storage unit is better than the rest.
Fact: All forage storage units have their strengths and weaknesses.
There is no one perfect storage unit.
One must determine which storage unit works best depending on needs and management capabilities
Myth #2: All silage heat is bad.
Fact: The main 2 types of forage heat are: physiological heat (beneficial) and microbial heat (harmful).
Physiological heat is produced by plant respiration during ensiling.
It is important for proper fermentation.
Microbial heat on the other hand is referred as secondary heating and is usually caused by aerobic organisms such as yeast and mold.
This type of heat is harmful and should be avoided in order to ensure successful storage of silage
Myth #3: Inoculants are not needed of best management practices are incorporated.
Fact: Producers with best management will use inoculants due to their economic benefit. Those that do not use inoculants will have higher cost.
Studies have shown that inoculant technology is very cost effective.
Adding an inoculant leads to faster and more efficient fermentation.
Inoculant have great return on investment but it does not help to overcome bad management practices.
Myth #4: Packing procedure is not important as long as there is enough weight.
Fact: Proper packing procedure is important regardless of type of forage.
Main objective of packing forage is to extinguish air from the pile.
Fermentation is an anaerobic process and it cannot occur unless air is completely expelled.
Proper packing procedure will ensure even distribution of weight and sufficient downward pressure, extinguishing air more efficiently.
Myth #5: Best indicator of a good packing process is a high dry matter density score.
Fact: Dry matter density is not accurate because it does not take into account moisture content of the fed. Water is part of storage environment and it must be taken into account.
Mold and yeast require oxygen to thrive.
If air is extinguished during filling and air penetration is controlled, mold and yeast cannot grow.
Hence, bulk density and porosity is a better indicator of what a good packing process is as compared to dry matter density.
When packing, the goal should be to minimise porosity, which is the measurement of void between solid dry matter particles.
Myth #6: Forage and dry matter shrink are the same.
Fact: Forage and dry matter shrink are very different.
A 10% forage shrink does not equal a 10% loss in dry matter
Myth #7: It is safe to approach a well managed forage bunker or drive-over pile.
Fact: Silage avalanche can happen anytime regardless of how safe it may appear to be.
Forage avalanches are common.
It is recommended to maintain a safe distance of 3 times the height of the forage mass.