Last minute soil’n’silage caution at Grassland UK

Imminent first cut silage quality is at risk where ground conditions remain poor due to recent high rainfall. In addition to raising cutting height to minimise soil pick up, farmers are being advised to use a combination inoculant that generates vinegar – acid as well as lactic acid.

To preview the Grassland UK event, microbiologist Dr David Adimpong from EnviroSystems says acid inhibits soil-borne bacteria and moulds that otherwise can cause in-clamp spoilage. “Although no additive can handle heavy contamination, even low levels of soil can trigger a butyric fermentation,” he says.

To combat this, the company recommends a triple action inoculant with three bacterial strains, each with different but compatible modes of action. An example from EnviroSystems is OptiSile Extra, which contains the industry standard Lactobacillus plantarum, widely appreciated for rapid lactic fermentation and maximum capture of nutrients going into the clamp.

A second bacterial strain generates both lactic and vinegar based acid in the clamp, suppressing spoilage organisms throughout storage. The third activates when the clamp is opened to produce more acid, keeping the clamp face and silage in the feed trough stable and cool.

“By inhibiting spoilage organisms, silage is protected not only from butyric fermentation but also heating up when exposed to air,” says Dr Adimpong. “Clearly, when silage heats up there is feed value and money are being lost into thin air.”

He adds that the research report supporting this advice states that using inoculants producing only lactic acid, “leads to silages which have low stability against aerobic deterioration.” [ref 1]

OptiSile EXTRA is made at Envirosystems’ manufacturing unit in Lancashire.

1 H Danner et al, 2003. Acid Increases Stability of Silage under Aerobic Conditions. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2003 Jan; 69(1): 562–567.