Teagasc is advising farmers to follow the 3 Ts to make better quality silage.
These include testing your:
One farmer attempting to deploy these strategies is Billy Glasheen, who runs a beef enterprise in County Waterford.
Teagasc’s Austin Flavin visited his enterprise in Passage East to discuss testing slurry, soil, and silage.
Firstly, the farm’s slurry is very high in N, P & K, partly because of a finishing diet in the shed and efforts are made to increase its quality.
Glasheen undertakes measures to ensure no water can enter the slurry tank. Also, the beef farmer added a liquid digestate this year to improve its quality and found his slurry agitated a lot quicker.
He said results show that his slurry has “super nitrate values in terms of N, P, and K”.
Billy grazes silage ground late at the back end of the year and takes soil samples before applying slurry using a trailing shoe in February.
He spreads slurry at an application rate of 3,000 gls /acre and tops this up with straight N within a fortnight. He aims to take his first cut of “high energy and protein” silage by May 17th, giving a high DMD of 75%.
Calculating what this high-value silage means over poor silage with added meal, Billy estimated he is saving €2,500 per year.
“When you are feeding cattle, it is about quality silage; it is not about bulk, especially when fattening and trying to reduce meal. That means to cut it early.”
“I am not looking at what is in the field; I am looking at the calendar and the weather. If the weather is good, I am going.”
“We know the Ps and Ks of all our fields. The second thing we do is test the quality of the slurry, and we know its nitrate value. The third thing we do, when silage is made, we test it and know the quality of the silage that we have in the pit.” the beef farmer concluded.