What to look out for with your 2016 second cut

A more accurate grass analysis that can be done within 24 hours
A more accurate grass analysis that can be done within 24 hours
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Mark Crawford, Sil-All distributor explains what to look out for this season in particular with second cut.

It has been an exceptional four-five weeks with soaring temperatures and plenty of sunshine. As a result everyone had plenty of time to get their first cut in and reap the benefits of dry grass, clean fields and better moods!

Surface waste on an otherwise excellent clamp of silage, resulting from extra rolling before sealing

Surface waste on an otherwise excellent clamp of silage, resulting from extra rolling before sealing

For those who went early, regrowth has been exceptional and is now causing a bit of a headache with the recent turn in the weather. Yield should be good and as usual nitrogen and sunshine will be the main focus.

As the weather has supported a strong regrowth there is the risk Nitrogen could still be high. To make sure simply avail of the services at AFBI or use Nitrate strips. If Nitrogen is high, try to hold off as best you can and counter the effects by using a quality additive.

Clamp/Bale management

Whether filling a new clamp, or topping one up, it is important to manage the grass going in. Roll in layers to prevent wedges building up and try to seal as soon as possible.

Nitrate strips, crude but immediate way to assess Nitrogen levels

Nitrate strips, crude but immediate way to assess Nitrogen levels

If topping up a clamp, try to avoid contact with the surface until new grass has gone in. This will actually help the clamp suck in air like a vacuum.

Similarly avoid letting the clamp sit overnight and roll before sealing the next day. This will have a similar effect resulting in increased surface wastage (see photo). With regards plastic covers or bale wrap you get what you pay for. The aim is to ensure the plastic minimises air ingress.

So with bales an extra layer or two of wrap has been proven to help, and with clamps the use of oxygen barriers are hugely beneficial. Given the overall costs involved, it is a little price to pay to ensure minimal aerobic losses in storage.

When handling bales the main aim should be minimal handling. The more lifting and rolling, the more air can get in and the increased risk of damage to the wrap. Therefore ideally bales should be wrapped where they are going to be stored.

To add or preserve?

Finally to add or not to add. The concept of additives can be confusing because you are not actually adding any value to the crop. Instead you are preserving what you have.

There are many farmers who use it religiously, but for those who are in two minds I would definitely advise the use of additives where there are risks of the preservation being affected. By this I mean, low dry matter (wet conditions), low sugars (poor growth, cutting early in the day), poor consolidation and high Nitrogen content.

For more information or general advice, contact Mark Crawford on 07733 346 310.