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  • ZISK

Weight on Silage Covers Critical

Recent regulations prohibiting the use of waste car tires to weight down plastic silage covers means farmers need to find alternatives quickly.

For example, regulations have been put in place in New York to prevent mosquitoes that carry the West Nile and Zika viruses from breeding and multiplying.

“The additional time and expense to comply with new waste tire regulations may cause some producers to question the need for covering piles at all,” says Renato Schmidt, Technical Services-Silage with Lallemand Animal Nutrition.

“There is absolutely no question that effectively covering piles saves money by preserving important nutrients in silage, reducing dry matter losses and maintaining the hygienic quality of the feed,” says Schmidt. “The effort to cover and seal silage piles is a vital part of the silage management plan.”

Schmidt estimates that properly weighting, sealing and covering a 40’ by 100’ bunker filled with corn can return $2,000 in improved dry matter recovery. Plus, properly covering the bunker reduces the need for separating and removing spoiled feed from the pile, and reduces the risk of lower feed intake and digestibility. Spoiled feed can also lead to metabolic and reproductive issues.

He recommends covering bunkers with dual-layer—black inner and white outer--plastic that is at least five millimeters thick. Also consider plastic film with an increased oxygen barrier. Then weight that plastic to prevent air from getting between the plastic and the silage pile. Some options:

  • Modifying tires by leaving tires on the rims, removing tire sidewalls, drilling holes in the tire sidewalls or cutting tires in half.

  • Covering tires with plastic to reduce standing water.

  • Treating tires with a mosquito larvicide, which requires a certified pesticide applicator. For more information on larvicide use, click here.

  • Replacing tires with sidewall disks.

  • Using heavy equipment tire beads.

  • Finding alternatives to tires, such as gravel or sand bags.


April 15, 2019



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