Trial data released by Silostop has shown that grass and maize silage stored under non-airtight conditions is susceptible to dry matter (DM) losses of up to 37% from the top 40 cm compared to less than 10% for crops stored under airtight conditions.
Oxygen barrier films can reduce dry matter loss by up to 27% compared to conventional plastic sheeting.
Conventional black plastic silage sheeting can allow up to 400cm3 of oxygen to pass through each square metre of film in a 24 hour period. In contrast, silage clamps covered with a Silostop oxygen barrier film allowed just 3 cm3of oxygen to pass through. As a result, crops stored in non-airtight conditions are more susceptible to aerobic spoilage and increased wastage whereas the crops stored in airtight conditions remained in better visible condition and retained a higher nutritional value.
Experiments to compare the effects of oxygen barrier films on the composition and losses from the upper layers of ensiled crops were carried out by the Estonian Research Institute of Agriculture, the Research Institute of Biotechnology and Veterinary Medicine at Latvia University of Agriculture and the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham in conjunction with Silostop.
They found that after 120 days in storage, wilted crops of mixed grass and red clover ensiled in farm-scale bunker silos, suffered DM losses of 5.0% when stored under conventional plastic sheeting compared to 2.5% for crops sealed under a Silostop oxygen barrier sheet. The total quantity of silage fresh weight discarded from the top layer of each crop – because it was judged to be inedible by livestock – was 1.7 tonnes (0.1% of the total 1,700 tonnes ensiled) of the crop under the Silostop barrier and 100 tonnes (5.9%) of the crop under the conventional sheeting. The crop kept under conventional sheeting was also found to contain high counts of yeasts, moulds and clostridial spores.
“It is a popular misconception that all plastic sheeting products are the same,” explains Jennifer Hitchman, UK Sales Manager for Silostop. “It’s not as simple as that. Conventional plastic sheeting is porous to oxygen and allows aerobic spoilage to occur at the clamp margins. Silostop sheeting is unique in that it’s specifically engineered construction allows 100 times less oxygen through, thereby virtually eliminating any surface spoilage.
“The trial results clearly illustrate the importance of using an effective layer of oxygen barrier film to protect crops from aerobic spoilage in order to limit crop wastage and protect the nutritional value of silage.
“With less spoiled feed to dispose of, and a high quality of silage, Silostop sheets protect the value of ensiled crops and can help to reduce labour costs and time.”
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