The Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) advises that contractors and farmers need to agree in advance who will be responsible for covering the silage pit and confirm if there will be an additional cost for the task.
“It is important for farmers to remember that it takes in excess of one hour to cover most silage pits,” a spokesperson stated.
“Where the contractor’s team is involved in covering pits, this can equate to a lost harvesting output of at least 20-acres, on the next farm, time that cannot be recovered.”
“There is a cost against the contractor operations of close to €3,000 (20-acres lost x €150/acre plus VAT), according to FCI.”
Take time to plan
Farmers need to be aware of the value of this service in covering silage pits for farmer customers, the body stated.
The association appeals to farmers to appreciate just how much the silage pit covering process costs and how it impacts the ability of the agricultural contractor to move to the next neighbouring farm, so farmers need to “think of other farmers in the national silage harvesting campaign”.
Despite the urgency surrounding silage harvesting, the workflow can be made easier and less stressful by taking time to plan, according to the FCI.
The key to a smooth workflow is a combination of good planning and good communication, it believes.
Covering silage pits:
In a previous article on That’s Farming, Jim Dockery, health and safety manager at FRS Network, provided some key steps to follow when covering pits, as follows:
- Have the base of the pit well cleared and ready for covering. Ensure there is access around the pit where possible;
- If walls are in place, it is recommended to line out the top metre with a sheet of plastic and fold the remaining 2 metres of this underneath the main cover; this helps eliminate waste afterwards;
- Have the covering materials laid out and ready to move before you start;
- Use the loader, if possible or a 4-wheel drive tractor to move heavy items up on the pit, such as the roles of plastic;
- You will need 3 or 4 adults to help. Always keep children away from the pit;
- Do not have children on or around the pit where machinery is moving. If you are the machine driver, please tell the farm owner to remove children while you are operating and working on the pit;
- Start opening the cover at the highest point of the pit and slide down the high side at the back until you have a sufficient amount to cover the back;
- Some farmers may use two covers or/and an old cover as well to protect the new one. Farmers may use netting on top of the two covers also;
- Roll out all covers and netting across the pit width and back part to ensure tails have enough lap for weight;
- Roll covers down the pit 2 metres across the width of the pit.
Read more on this news article.